The CPTSD Foundation is dedicated to helping all who come to us gain and maintain optimum mental health in any way we can. For this reason, we have come to you in this article with more information to enhance your healing journey and to celebrate World Mental Health Awareness Day on October 10, 2023.
The theme for this year’s mental health awareness day is “Mental health is a universal right,” which all of us should believe because it is true. Just as breathing clean air and having access to clean drinking water are human rights, so is the right to feel mentally well.
What is Meant By the Term Mental Health?
Mental health refers to a person’s cognitive, behavioral, and emotional well-being. It affects how people react to stressors, engage with others, and make choices.
Indeed, the World Health Organization defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”
Also, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), mental health is “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and can make a contribution to his or her community.”
Mental health is a term that is also used to refer to the absence of mental disease
Although the WHO is focused on aiding the global population in attaining optimum mental and physical health, many variables keep their work from coming to fruition. One problem is the lack of mental health professionals worldwide to care for all the people needing their help.
Other enormous problems are poverty and war, which not only affect the lives of adults but cause enormous harm to the psyches of children around the globe. Maintaining good mental health when your life is in constant turmoil is challenging.
What Does Good Mental Health Look Like?
Humans need and desire to feel mentally well, but what does it look like to feel and be well emotionally? One possible definition is that good mental health is when you can manage daily stresses, use your abilities for the good of yourself and others, and work productively.
Good mental health is a massive part of feeling happy in our lives, as are being connected to others and having a defined sense of meaning. A sense of meaning refers to how we perceive our life’s meaning and purpose. Many people experience their lives as meaningful when they recognize that they have significance beyond momentary and trivial purposes that transcend the chaos of today’s society.
To be mentally well is to be resilient in tough times and capable of overcoming all human challenges, such as hardship and the inevitability of death.
What are the Red Flags That Your Mental Health is Compromised
While having good mental health is the goal of most people, sometimes things go terribly wrong. The human mind can only handle so much before it begins to have mental health problems.
For instance, people in a war zone face terror, uncertainty, and death daily. Men, women, and especially children cannot thrive in such an environment, dramatically affecting their mental health. Adults in these situations often begin to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), while children could start to experience symptoms of complex post-traumatic stress disorder (CPTSD).
Even after being removed from the war zone, these folks are at high risk of suffering from secondary mental health challenges such as major depressive disorder and anxiety disorders. It is also common for children living in such an environment to experience a dissociative disorder.
There are some red flags that one should always look for when your mental health is worsening.
- You notice your energy levels have decreased.
- Everything you do, including good things, seems like work.
- You feel trapped in a negative situation.
- You begin snapping at others over trivial things.
- You feel overwhelmed by your responsibilities.
- You struggle to engage with anything besides things that stress you out.
- You have begun to relive better times and daydream about them.
- You feel and have become more defensive of your feelings.
- You feel triggered by things that before didn’t bother you.
- You have begun avoiding and withdrawing from friends and family.
- You find that you struggle to feel pleasure from good things in your life.
If you find any of the above true, it is time to prioritize your self-care and consider seeking professional help for your mental health.
Learning to Care for Your Mental Health
The most significant challenge for people experiencing a mental health problem or crisis is to do good mental health self-care. Self-care means doing things that aid you in living well and improving your physical and mental well-being. Improving one’s mental health self-care routine involves doing things to help manage your stress and increase your energy level.
It is vital to consider that even small acts of daily self-care can have huge impacts on your mental health. Below are some tips that may help you gain the mental health you yearn for.
Prioritize sleep. Make a schedule and stick to it to get enough sleep. Make and manage a bedtime routine to allow your body and mind to know it is bedtime and begin to unwind for sleep. Stay away from the blue light of electronic devices before sleep. Turn off your devices at least an hour before your nightly bedtime routine.
Eat healthy and regularly. Maintaining your hydration and eating well will assist your body and mind. Avoid beverages containing caffeine, such as coffee and soft drinks, as caffeine can increase your anxiety levels.
Learn to set goals and priorities. Decide what must be done right now and what you can put off for later. Learn that the word “no” is not a dirty word, and say it to yourself and others when you feel overwhelmed or taken advantage of.
Maintain healthy boundaries. Boundaries are when you draw a line in the sand and say I will go this far and no farther. These helpful instruments are vital to keep others from harming you with their needs and to restrict yourself from trying to help others too much. As we have seen, it is alright to say “NO.”
Practice gratitude and focus on positivity. Purposefully look for things to be grateful for in your life. Start simply by naming things like “I can see” or “I can walk.” Actively focus on the positive and challenge your negative thoughts. Practice quoting positive affirmations to yourself and post them around your home to remind you what you are grateful for.
Stay connected to your family and friends. One of the most considerable problems with mental health challenges is the isolation that comes with them. Reach out to people who are wells full of living water and avoid those who are bone dry. You will know wells full of water by their loving and supportive attitudes and behaviors toward you and dry wells by their demands on you without offering support.
While self-care looks different for all of us, finding the things that make you happy and enjoy yourself is critical. Even though self-care isn’t a cure for mental health issues, understanding your triggers and coping with your symptoms is made easier by taking good care of yourself.
When to Seek Professional Help
Seeking professional help is critical if you are experiencing distressing or severe symptoms lasting more than two weeks. These symptoms may include:
- Appetite changes that cause weight changes
- Difficulty sleeping (either too much or too little)
- Struggling to get out of bed in the morning because of your mood
- Struggling with your concentration
- Finding you have lost your ability to perform daily responsibilities and functions
- Losing interest in things you once found enjoyable
- Feeling suicidal or having suicidal thoughts
It is vital not to wait until the above symptoms feel overwhelming and you are in danger. Take your concerns to your primary care physician, who can refer you to a mental health professional.
Ending Our Time Together
I feel strongly that mental health is a universal human right that we should all attempt to maintain in ourselves and to help others who are struggling. The suicide rate in the world is enormous and growing yearly because of the horrendous daily stressors that society forces upon us.
My own mental health struggles have filled me with the need to reach out to others through my writing. Not only do others benefit from what I write, but I also gain great satisfaction from hearing the beautiful comments and the care I receive from you, our readers. For this, I wish to sincerely thank you.
If you find yourself in crisis, please reach out to someone. In the United States, you can find immediate help by dialing 988 to connect with a crisis team to guide you to your next steps.
No matter who you are or where you live, please know that the CPTSD Foundation is on your side, wishing you all the best mental health in the world. You mean the world to us, so, please, take good care of yourself and remember that we care.
“I keep moving ahead, as always, knowing deep down inside that I am a good person and that I am worthy of a good life.” — Jonathan Harnisch.
“Don’t be a reflection of your depression, your dark, or your ugly. Reflect on what you want. Your light, your beauty, & your strength. Aspire for greatness — reflect who you are, not which deficits you maintain. Showcase the hidden treasures.” — Tiffany Luard.
“My story is not a sad story; it’s a real one. It’s a story about a girl who fought through a storm she thought would never end.” — Hannah Blum.