I grew up in a household with parents who faced mental health issues at many points in their lives. To the outside world, they tried very hard at looking perfectly “normal”, even when they had their down episodes. They were very functional and had decent jobs.
Talking about and promoting mental well-being is important because one can be mentally unwell and not be diagnosed with an illness. This is a common issue in our society. The reality is that 1 in every 5 Canadians will experience a mental health issue at some point in their lives. Despite this, there is huge stigma associated with mental health. For more information about the scale and reach of mental health issues in Canada, check out this report by the Mental Health Commission of Canada.
Evidence also shows that sustaining our positive mental health in rural communities appears to be harder compared to urban environments. This is not because there is more mental illness in rural communities, but rather because there are issues such as personal factors with stigma and low mental health literacy. In order to reduce this barrier, it is important to increase awareness about how to promote mental health. Talking openly about these ideas can also reduce the stigma of mental health issues.
So, I researched some ideas to promote mental wellness and here’s what I found. I’ve included a list of my research at the end of the article if you’d like to read more!
Healthy eating and physical activity
- A daily intake of 5 servings of fruit and vegetables was shown to decrease psychological distress.
- Exercising has been shown to increase hormones that make you feel happier like endorphins and monoamines.
- Exercising can also act as a distraction from negative thoughts that may bring down a person’s mood.
Find an emotional balance
- Balance your emotions through emotional expression of a range of emotions.
- People who are firm and rigid about their opinion and refuse to change their views can develop mental health issues.
Make time for self and others
- People who have healthy, supportive relationships are also able to balance how much they spend time with themselves and others.
- Time spent at work, play, sleep, rest, and exercise, should all be balanced equally to avoid mental stress.
Reflect on your emotions
- Having emotional literacy helps an individual to maintain mental health; this means that it is important to be aware of our emotional triggers, find ways to manage our emotions, practice self-motivation, and have empathy.
- Try talking to a friend, counsellor or reflecting upon yourself to find out what brings out negative emotion, and make a list on how to reduce stress.
Have a positive lookout
- Having a positive attitude is very important to mental health. Positive attitude and healthy thinking go hand-in-hand; it’s about thinking about something in a balanced way – looking at a situation in all aspects then deciding how you feel about it.
So … can you think of any other ways to support mental wellness?
Thanks for listening, cheers to happy thinking!
- Austin, W., & Boyd, M. A. (2010). Psychiatric and mental health nursing for Canadian practice. Ontario: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
- Gulliver, A., Griffiths, K. M., & Christensen, H. (2010). Perceived barriers and facilitators to mental health help-seeking in young people: a systematic review. BMC psychiatry, 10(1), 113.
- Cattan, M., & Tilford, S. (Eds.). (2006). Mental health promotion: a lifespan approach. McGraw-Hill Education (UK).
- Mental Health Commission of Canada (2010). Making the Case for investing in Mental Health in Canada.
- Paykel, E. S., Abbott, R., Jenkins, R., Brugha, T. S., & Meltzer, H. (2000). Urban–rural mental health differences in Great Britain: findings from the National Morbidity Survey. Psychological medicine, 30(02), 269-280.
- Richard, A., Rohrmann, S., Vandeleur, C. L., Mohler-Kuo, M., & Eichholzer, M. (2015). Associations between fruit and vegetable consumption and psychological distress: Results from a population-based study. BMC Psychiatry, 15.
- Stuart, M. (2004). Promoting a family’s physical and mental health and well-being. Promoting the health and well-being of families during difficult times. The University of Arizona Cooperative extension.
- Talen, M. R., & Mann, M. M. (2009). Obesity and mental health. Primary Care: Clinics in Office Practice, 36(2), 287-305.
About Grace Gu
Grace is a fourth year nursing student at the University of Northern British Columbia. Grace stays healthy by eating healthy, exercising daily and listening to music and singing in her car. She enjoys going to church and staying in touch with her spirituality to find deeper meaning of life. She likes to spend time with her cat and family and enjoys helping people out in any way possible. Grace wants to work in the mental health field as her nursing specialty focus.