I am Home, a safe mental space.
While it may not be immediately apparent, there are many similarities between a home and our mental state.On the surface, a home is merely a collection of bricks, cement and mortar. Dig deeper though, and anyone will tell you that a home is also the place we feel most secure and comfortable, as it is our refuge from the weariness and troubles we encounter in the “real world”. Similarly, our thoughts are the safe haven from the dangers and social challenges that we face in the “real world”.
In our head, our thoughts, memories, experiences and feelings are housed. And much like a physical home may crumble if we don’t we don’t build a good foundation and maintain this structure, we may not be able to weather mental “storms” if we don’t build a healthy mental base and maintain our mental processes and feelings.
In 2020, The global pandemic, resulting lockdowns and economic impact have been particularly taxing for everybody’s mental wellbeing and have shone a bright light on the importance of better mental health education. Mental health is often considered a taboo subject, and is not given the necessary prominence it should, with many misconceptions and falsehoods abounding.
This month, Leadhome is shining a light on the importance of educating South Africans around mental illness and mental well being, to ensure we take better care of our mental spaces.
What is mental health?
Mental health relates to our emotional, psychological and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, how we make choices and how we relate to others.
Understanding mental health is the first step in gaining a better grip on our psyche and emotions, and finding ways to maintain a healthy mental state.
Everyone responds differently to trauma, environments or events that lead to mental stress and/or depression, and thus, the signs or symptoms will vary from person to person.
Here are some signs of stress or depression:
Feeling sad or experiencing a feeling of being “low”
Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed
Changes in appetite — weight loss or gain unrelated to dieting
Trouble sleeping or sleeping too muchLoss of energy or increased fatigue
Read more about these signs here: signs of depression
Depression does not occur randomly, and there several risk factors:
Read more about the risk factors here : Risk factors for depression
If you identify that someone close to you is suffering from depression, how can you help them? Here are some ways:
1. Listen to them
Let them know you are there for them –start conversations that show you are concerned. You might say “It seems like you’ve been having a hard time lately. What’s on your mind?”
2. Help them find support
Your friend may not be aware that they are dealing with depression and could be unsure about how to reach out for support. In this case, you could help them find potential therapists or support groups.
3. Learn about depression before you offer assistance
Remember, each person deals with problems differently and in ways you may not understand. As such, it’s important to become familiar with the facts about depression before attempting to help.
4. Be Patient
There is no quick-fix solution to overcoming depression. No one is the same, and healing and learning to cope may take longer for some than others.
5. Stay in touch
With our busy lives, it’s easy to become wrapped up in our personal problems and forget about others.. It is therefore critical to stray on top of the mental well being of people with depression, as they may become more withdrawn and avoid reaching out. A little effort goes a long way – you can set a reminder on your phone simply to send quick text ; this small action that will make the other person feel valuable and cared about.You could say something like “I’ve been thinking of you and I care about you.”
Read more about what you can do to help with your friends and family going through depression : How to help someone you think may be suffering from depression
How can you help ?
Help spread awareness and help educate many other South Africans about Mental health awareness by donating to the SA Federation of Mental Health Awareness.
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