What Everyone Needs To Know About Mental Health

Mental health is a part of your overall health. It's about:

  • How you feel, think, and behave;
  • How you cope with the ups and downs of everyday life;
  • How you feel about yourself and your life;
  • How you see yourself and your future;
  • How stress affects you;
  • How you deal with negative things that happen in your life;
  • Your self-esteem or confidence.

We all experience mental health problems from time to time: Feelings like sadness, worry, anger, fear and grief are understandable reactions to negative events in our lives, and don't typically last very long. But if these feelings continue for long periods of time, become overwhelming, and 'get in the way' of daily life, then something more serious than a mental health problem may be happening.

A mental (health) disorder is a behavioural, emotional or cognitive pattern of functioning in an individual that is associated with distress, suffering, or impairment in one or more areas of life - such as school, work, or social and family interactions. Mental health disorders can occur at any age. Each type of disorder has its own specific pattern of symptoms and levels of severity. Some people may experience a sudden onset of symptoms, while others will notice a gradual development.

Are your Children Stressed?

Just like adults, children can feel anxious or stressed about new situations, meeting new people or having too many things to worry about. Stress in your child may show up in many ways including:

Following are a few signs which may indicate that a child or adolescent may need help:

Younger Children:

  • Marked fall in school performance
  • Poor grades in school despite trying very hard.
  • Severe worry or anxieties, as shown by regular refusal to go to school, go to sleep or take part in activities that are normal for the child's age
  • Frequent physical complaints: Hyperactivity; fidgeting; constant movement beyond regular playing with or without difficulty
  • paying attention
  • Persistent nightmares
  • Persistent disobedience or aggression (longer than 6 months) and provocative opposition to authority figures
  • Frequent, unexplainable temper tantrums
  • Not wanting to go to school
  • Threatens to harm or kill oneself

Pre-Adolescents and Adolescents:

  • Marked decline in school performance
  • Inability to cope with problems and daily activities
  • Marked changes in sleeping and/or eating habits
  • Headaches
  • Extreme difficulties in concentrating that get in the way at school or at home
  • Sexual acting out
  • Depression shown by sustained, prolonged negative mood and attitude, often accompanied by poor appetite, difficulty
  • sleeping or thoughts of death
  • Severe mood swings
  • Strong worries or anxieties that get in the way of daily life, such as at school or socializing
  • Repeated use of alcohol and/or drugs. Intense fear of becoming obese with no relationship to actual body weight, excessive
  • Dieting, throwing up or using laxatives to lose weight.
  • Persistent nightmares
  • Threats of self-harm or harm to others
  • Self-injury or self destructive behavior
  • Frequent outbursts of anger, aggression
  • Becoming more quiet
  • Repeated threats to run away
  • Aggressive or non-aggressive consistent violation of rights of others; opposition to authority, truancy, thefts, or vandalism
    Strange thoughts, beliefs, feelings, or unusual behaviors

    If problems persist over an extended period of time, or if others involved in the child's life are concerned, consider speaking to a psychologist or psychiatrist or a trained mental health professional.

If your child feels stressed you can help them by:

  • Listening to them when they talk
  • Spending time and doing things together
  • Showing them that you love them
  • Giving them time to relax as they may feel too busy
  • Watching them play and help them get along with other children
  • Asking the teacher if she/he notices any problems, and tell her/him your concerns.

Some tips for students:

  • Keep a journal to increase your self-awareness and self-reflection.
  • Use "self talk" to encourage yourself; be your own best friend NOT your worst critic.
  • Encourage friends to tell you their points of view on issues.
  • Pay attention to strategies you can use to calm yourself and shift your mood from negative to positive.
  • Be aware of your "buttons," the things that make you angry and upset, and think about ways to deal with them.
  • Find opportunities to cooperate and engage in collaboration with peers.
  • Listen to your instincts: when with a friend or a significant other, if your gut says that there's something wrong - there is!
  • Take quiet, alone time every day to listen to your inner voice.
  • Be attentive to your own social and emotional needs.
  • Notice people and places that make you feel good and those that don't.

    Signs in adults who may need help include:

  • Those having difficulty sustaining a job or regular chores or managing relationships
  • Those having difficulty controlling or managing anger, anxiety, fear, suspiciousness, sadness etc
  • Addiction to alcohol/drugs or engaging in unlawful behavior
  • Having strange thoughts, beliefs, feelings, or unusual behaviors or habits that obstruct general positivity in life.
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