Research shows that mental illnesses are common in the United States, affecting millions of people each year. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S., or roughly 46.6 million people, experience mental illness in a given year. This number is very unsettling. And because of this, many healthcare organizations today look for opportunities to address the needs of people living with mental illness and promote the overall importance of good mental health.
What is Mental Health and Why is it Important?
We often hear the term “mental health” – it’s an expression used by a lot of people, but oftentimes it is misunderstood. It’s often used as a substitute for mental health conditions/mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, anxiety disorders, depression, and many more. However, mental health refers to your overall well-being. It includes your psychological, emotional, and social well-being. Your mental health influences how you think, feel and act. It also affects how you cope with daily stress, develops relationships, overcomes challenges, and recover from hardships.
It is important to understand that mental health is just as important as physical illness. Just like most of us seek medical treatment for any form of physical illness or disease, it is also critical that we don’t neglect mental illness. And even though there are a good number of people who experience mental illness every year, only half of those people actually receive some type of treatment. One reason the percentage is so low is because of the stigma attached to mental health. However, people should understand that if mental illness is left untreated, it could result in higher medical expenses, poor performance at school or work, strained relationships with family and friends, or increased risk of suicide.
How Do You Know if Someone is Mentally and Emotionally Healthy?
Earlier in this post, I defined what mental health is and why it’s important. So, next, I want to share some of the signs of a mentally healthy person. According to HealthGuide, an organization that provides evidence-based mental health education and support to a global audience, people who are mentally healthy have these characteristics:
- A sense of contentment
- A zest for living and the ability to laugh and have fun
- The ability to deal with stress and bounce back from adversity
- A sense of meaning and purpose, in both their activities and their relationships
- The flexibility to learn new skills and adapt to change
- A balance between work and play, rest and activity, etc
- The ability to build and maintain fulfilling relationships
- Self-confidence and high self-esteem
How Can You Improve Your Mental Health?
For some people, taking care of their mental health requires them to seek professional support. And that’s good; a person should definitely seek professional support if they need it. However, you can start off by taking small steps to improve your mental health. There are practices that you can adapt to become more resilient, elevate your mood, and enjoy life more. Whether you’re looking for solutions to cope with mental illness or you just simply want to feel more positive in life, here are some tips on how to improve your mental health:
- Value yourself.
How you treat yourself can have a huge impact on how you think and feel. Treat yourself with kindness and respect. Do something that you’re good at to build your self-confidence. This way, you will be able to just enjoy life as it is.
- Tell yourself something positive everyday.
Instead of thinking and feeling negative things, try telling yourself something positive. When we perceive our life negatively, we end up viewing experiences in a way that confirms that notion. Empower yourself by using positive words that promote feelings of self-worth. Furthermore, don’t dwell too much on the things that you have no control over.
It’s normal to feel tired. However, when everything is just too much, it’s okay to step away and rest. You can take a vacation or just simply stay at home and relax. This usually helps almost immediately.
- Do something that makes you happy.
Whether it’s exercising, dancing, spending time with family and friends or even just working on a crossword puzzle, do something that makes you happy.
- Accept who you are.
We are all unique. Recognizing that we are all different can help you improve your mental health. Be proud of who you are and what you can do.
- Set realistic goals.
- Write everything you are grateful for in a journal.
- Start your day with a cup of coffee.
- Eat a good meal.
- Get a good night’s sleep.
- Spend time with family and friends.
- Talk about your feelings.
- Focus on your strengths.
- Accomplish simple tasks.
- Surround yourself with good people.
- Take a break.
- Exercise at least three times a week.
- Learn how to deal with stress.
- Learn to forgive those who hurt you.
- Be kind to others.
- Declutter your mind regularly.
- Get out of your comfort zone.
- Take a time out from digital devices.
- Avoid alcohol and other drugs.
- Develop healthy habits.
- Create a wellness and self-care plan.
- Resist the urge to check social media too often.
- Relax and get cozy.
- Connect with sunshine or nature.
- Focus on your spirituality.
- Drink enough water.
- Call or chat with your loved ones regularly.
- Grow air cleaning plants at your home.
- Listen to music.
- Start being creative.
- Laugh more.
- Immerse in morning walks.
- Cultivate a positive mindset.
- Stop overthinking.
- Keep learning.
- Make memories.
- Love yourself.
In addition to the 5 things listed above, I’ve also created a list of several additional things that can help you improve your mental health:
You have the power to take positive, actionable steps to improve your mental health. And you should start today. Making consistent efforts to improve your mental health will help you function optimally at home and at work.
If you want some input from a caring professional, you can schedule a consultation with Dr. Mark Herbst. He is a seasoned psychiatrist in the Los Angeles area. Focused on a comprehensive and holistic approach to mental health, he provides mental health evaluations and treatment services for individuals of all ages. Whether you are struggling with depression, anxiety or need help treating a substance abuse addiction, Dr. Herbst will help you find the right treatment.
Visit his practice and learn more about how you can take better care of your mental health.