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By: Bisma Farooq Sheikh

10th October is observed as ‘World Mental Health Day’ and nations pledge to pay attention to the issues of mental health and to strive for achieving a healthy mind alongiside a healthy body. The event is also important in view of the stigmatization and the social rebuke associated with mental health that has been acting as a stumbling block in way of addressing the mental health issues. The event was initiated by the ‘World Federation for Mental Health’ in 1992 and the aim was to spread awareness regarding prevention of mental health issues and promotion of positive mental health. It was to advocate de- stigmatization of mental illnesses and ensuring accessibility of quality mental health care for all and to highlight the need to treat mental health at par with physical health.

The theme of World Mental Health Day this year is “Ensuring Mental health and Wellbeing for all becomes a Global priority”. The aim is to sensitize general public about prioritizing their own mental health and of others around them. This day is a prompt for us to reignite our efforts to protect and improve our mental health and also aims to sensitize public and all stakeholders that absence of mental illness cannot be equated with mental health. Every effort needs to be directed towards salutogenic approach; which is the promotion of mental health that includes helping people to develop coping strategies, problem solving and asset building (self-esteem, resilience, confidence, competence, grit, personal growth, emotional intelligence, learned resourcefulness, meaning in life and flourishing)

Among other steps and measures, there are five such important steps we can take today to begin making positive changes or creating healthy habits for promoting mental health and these include:

Connect with other people

Spent time with friends, family and teachers. Improve your personal relationships and social connectivity but nevertheless avoid toxic people.  we cannot change people but can change people around us. Connect only with those who ignite the spark of positivity and growth in us. Connecting with people shouldn’t be at the cost of deindividuating or losing self-respect. Above all don’t strive to make everyone happy as we are the humans not circus clowns. Prize others but prioritize yourself. Do not let others determine your worth and decide for you.

Be physically active

Be as engaging as possible. Go for walk, do physical exercise, go for shopping and trips. Do Gardening; take part in sports and games. These little activities mark huge difference in our physical and mental health

Practice mindfulness

Live in the present and make best out of it.  Savour the cup in your hand. Pay attention to the present rather than ruminating about past or worrying about future.

Learn new skills

We are never too old for learning.  Always try to learn new skills. Spending time in productive pursuits is far better than scrolling through social media and looking at profiles of others.  Learning new skills bring freshness, joy and growth in life. As goes the saying Always be in the process of becoming. Everyday learn something new. Seek for the ways to make life exciting.

Give to others:

We have so much to give and the beauty of giving is that we receive more than we give.  Giving is not limited to helping and feeding needy. It means to Give someone a shoulder to cry on; a chest to lie on, an ear to hear them; Smile and greet people.  There are many people available to give money to others but give something more important to them that is:Give love, care, respect, hope, time, trust, loyality, knowledge and confidence to others.

Let’s work collectively to build a world in which mental health is valued, promoted and protected; where everyone has an equal opportunity to enjoy mental health and to exercise their human rights and where everyone can access the mental health care they need.  It is everyone’s business not only of policy makers, psychiatrists or counsellors. We as parents, teachers, family members, friends and as productive members of society has the responsibility to be sensible with our words and actions.

We need to ask ourselves at every move whether I am leading someone towards mental health or mental illness. One body shaming comment is enough to trigger feeling of worthlessness and suicidal ideation among a person and one positive statement is enough to make someone’s day. One negative personal attack by employer is enough to force a person to seek resignation.  Harsh and demeaning words by parents and spouse are enough to ruin someone. Let’s prioritize our mental health and those of our loved ones and never hesitate to seek mental health help and be open about the emotional turmoil and psychological issues we face. Above all let’s tame our minds not to become like scampering monkeys and take a pause. Give it rest when it deserves and demands so.

Author is a PhD scholar, Dept of psychology, University of Kashmir

Email: [email protected]




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