Mental health refers to our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. We all have mental health. Our mental health affects how we think, feel, and act. It also impacts on how we cope, interact and form relationships with others, as well as our daily functioning.
Our mental health can vary and be dependent on a number of factors which may include;
The number of demands and stressors we have
Our physical health
Significant life events
How much sleep we get
Relationships with other people
Our diet/ nutritional intake
Environmental, societal and cultural factors
How much we engage in leisure activities, hobbies and interests
What is Mental illness?
Mental health is different from mental illness (which can also be referred to as having a mental health disorder). Poor mental health and struggling to cope is also different from having a mental illness. A mental illness or mental health disorder is an illness that affects that way people think, feel, behave, or interact with others. There are many types of mental illnesses/ health disorders with different signs and symptoms.
Generally, the difference between poor mental health and a mental illness is the nature of and degree to which the difficulties someone is experiencing are having on their wellbeing and functioning (socially, occupationally and academically). Mental illness typically has more of a significant detrimental impact across many areas of an individual’s life than episodes of poor mental health which may be situation specific or time limited.
Anyone of any age, gender, geographical background, race, ethnicity, class, background, religion, ability, appearance, culture, caste, education, economic status, spirituality, sexual orientation can experience mental illness.
Factors that contribute towards good mental health and emotional wellbeing
It is important to have the basics of wellbeing consistently practised and in place. Young people may need help establishing and maintaining these wellbeing practices:
Having a routine; getting up and going to bed at similar times
Good sleep hygiene (click HERE to learn more about sleep hygiene)
Being organised and having a plan of what to do and how to do it
Eating and drinking regularly, this includes having breakfast everyday
Engaging in hobbies and interests regularly
Making sure there is a balance of activities; academic work, social time and rest as these are all equally important
Having limits as to how much they use technology, social media and online gaming
Having short and longer term goals and ambitions; things to look forward to, strive and work towards
How adult caregivers can support a young person struggling with their mental health
Ensure you have support for yourself; ask for help or let someone know if you are struggling either with your own emotional and mental health or if you are struggling with supporting a young person.
Role model that you are human too; normalise and validate that we all have thoughts and feelings and can experience difficulties and struggles with our emotional and mental health.
Share information; joined up working between adult caregivers (e.g., home and education) ensures consistency and containment for young people.
Be calm, consistent , clear and boundaried, as well as kind and compassionate.
Remember that your verbal and nonverbal communication and responses will have an impact on how a young person thinks, feels and behaves.
Work with a young person to help them better understand , express and communicate how they are thinking and feeling.