Uncategorized July 08, 2019
Mental Health Awareness, part 1

Mental Health Awareness, part 1

Our mental health influences the way we think, how we feel and how we approach life. It also influences how we overcome challenges, how it affects our ability to cope with stress and consequently how it affects our relationships. And the way we live affects our mental health.

When I was doing the research for this article, it surprised me how often it happens that people find it hard to cope with difficult situations because they are not mentaly strong. The statistics surprised me, and not in a good way. 

20% of youth have a mental health condition

There is a lot written about mental health and some articles are very general, whilst others deep dive into the science and psychology, I will mention some of the articles in case you want to gain further insight into the research that has been made.

But in general, I want to share how to build our mental health, how to make it stronger so we can overcome the challenges of stress, studies, work or relationships

Mental Health Problems: Reasons & Consequences

Having poor mental health can reduce our quality of life. Thirty percent of young people are facing stress on a daily basis, 22% have anxiety problems, 20% have sleep difficulties and 14% of young adults are dealing with depression. All of these disorders can severely affect our academic achievements and reduce our satisfaction with our college experience.

Why does this happen? What has changed in our way of life? Well, exactly that: our way of life has changed.

Our way of life has changed and consequently is has affected our mental health.

PRESSURE TO BE PRESENT, ONLINE AND ACTIVE

First of all, technology has made our lives different (in some ways better, in others not so much): we can work or study everywhere as long as we have just a smartphone, and the internet has made information very accessible.

We do not have to miss our loved ones. As long as you have a phone, you are always a phone call or message away.

No matter where we go, there are advertisements for things we need to buy to make our lives easier, performances we need to see to be happier or parties we need to attend to be more popular.

The flood of information affects our mental health.

Noam Chomsky pointed out that all this flood of information is provoking subconscious stress because our brain keeps processing the information even if we do not pay strict attention. It also puts a lot of pressure on individuals.

What do I mean by pressure? We feel that we need to do more, work longer, study harder. Taking a day off, especially when you have just started working or building a carrier, is something that we do not dare to do, because we feel guilty or fear somebody will surpass us.

As students, we have a lot of pressure on our shoulders. To get a good job we need experience, to get experience we need to work, and to work we need a good degree. However, it is not enough to only have a degree, we also have to stand out. How? By doing voluntary work, being social, open to innovative ideas, finding creative solutions. By being something unique that makes us better than other applicants. There is constant competition, for the best grade, for the job, for opportunities…

Social media can affect our mental health

Social Media, on the other hand, presents a constant pressure to be available, online and active. Besides, it also affects the way we see ourselves as we see pictures of seemingly perfect people and their lives, and compare it to our own lives. Suddenly our life seems mediocre by comparison although it might not be true. This affects our self-esteem, confidence and love for ourselves.

FOMO & PARADOX OF CHOICES

Above all, FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) is very present: people have difficulty saying “NO” to something because they think they will miss out on an experience, a job offer, meeting someone new, or a funny story to tell afterwards.

Wanting to be part of everything will have poor affect on our mental health.

This also brings me to the Paradox of Choices and I want to give a very good example that Barry Schwartz presented.

If we look back twenty to twenty-five years, there was only one pair of jeans. Our parents or grandparents went to the store, tried 3 pairs of jeans (they were all the same, only the size changed) and bought one. When they got home, if the pair of pants was not looking good on them, they could only be angry at the manufacturer for not making better pants.

What about nowadays? We have hundreds of different styles of pants (skinny jeans, not so skinny, high-waist, low-waist etc.), when we are trying them on we are thinking of all the possible outcomes for each pair we might buy. Consequently, when we arrive home and the jeans do not fit as we thought they would, we automatically think that the pair we did not purchase would have been a better fit.

Poor mental health makes it hard to face challenges.

What happens? We put the blame on ourselves. There is a constant pressure to make the right choice. But how to make the right choice when we always think about what we are missing out on when we make the decision? Assuming the outcomes to different decisions, makes it harder to decide and for some people it is impossible to make the choice. They either freeze, or they want it all.

Here comes FOMO again, and the pressure, and consequently the stress, anxiety and depression. It is a situation which prevents us from being happy or satisfied.

Poor mental health makes it hard to decide.

This example works for absolutely every aspect of life. What should I study, what should my thesis topic be? Where should I live? Should I travel or get a job, should I have a family now or after I am 30?  What should I do with my free time: see friends, be with my partner or family, take some time for myself or hobbies?

CONSEQUENCES

Mental health issues can negatively impact our daily life, how we react to life challenges, how we face expectations, the relationships we have with people around us, among others. 

It can affect our success at university/school: we are too tired to study, have no energy to motivate ourselves to do better, have no self-confidence to change studies when it is not right for us. For some people this can have long-term consequences on future employment opportunities.

Overall, our mental health influences our confidence and self-esteem. If we do not trust ourselves to do better, to aim higher, to be worthy of love and success, then we will not do anything about a situation we are not satisfied with.

Mental health begins with us.

8 Reasons Why Being Mentally Healthy Benefits Us

The main purpose of this article is to raise awareness of the importance of our mental health. Building strong mental health helps overcome challenges of today’s fast life? Being mentally healthy helps us to:

  1. Have a sense of contentment
  2. Have joy of living: develop the ability to laugh and have fun
  3. It gives us the ability to deal with stress and challenges
  4. We have a higher capacity to be flexible in learning new skills and adapt to changes
  5. We learn to maintain a balance between work and play
  6. We are able to build and maintain fulfilling relationships
  7. It gives us self-confidence and high self-esteem

To read about how to build strong mental health, keep an eye out for our next article on 10th of July!

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