Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Mental Health

Today is World Mental Health day, so let's talk about Mental health. For many people, this is an uncomfortable conversation; there is a cultural association that links Mental Health with the concept of Mental Illness, often as a negative trope used to spread fear and misunderstanding. The result of this association is a pervasive stigmatization, particularly when it comes to talking about oneself. Mental Health is a multifactorial framework influenced by genetics as well as social and physical environments. The complex nature of Mental health and the view of mental illness in our society makes this a difficult topic of conversation. Unfortunately, the lack of dialogue around mental health allows the negative stigma to prevail. The resulting discomfort creates serious barriers for individuals when it comes to accessing the support and care they require. Currently two thirds of Canadians suffering from Mental illness do not seek help because of stigma.

What is Mental Health ?

Mental Health reflects an internal state of wellbeing that includes feeling good and functioning well. Individuals with positive Mental Health feel able to cope with their stress and remain in control of their lives. People with positive Mental Health can experience difficult times and negative emotions without experiencing a Mental Illness. Mental Illness defines a range of medical conditions that affects the Mental Health of one in every five Canadians. In most cases Mental illness can be managed to include a life with positive Mental Health for the individual affected. When Mental illness is left unmanaged, Mental health can deteriorate, having a negative impact on the individual's life.

The quality of an individual's Mental health is closely linked to the quality of their physical health. Not only is overall health and performance affected by mental health, so too is one's greater sense of enjoyment of life and sense of purpose. Everyone can benefit and improve their overall health and happiness by investing in their mental health.

Mental Health & Wellbeing

When we take time to care for our mental health and wellbeing we improve our overall physical health. Having a sense of wellbeing fosters an individual's self esteem, resilience, and sense of purpose. Other benefits of positive mental health & wellbeing include:

  • Improved sleep
  • Improved immune function and resilience
  • Increased self esteem and worth
  • Improved productivity
  • Decrease stress
  • Decrease pain
  • Decrease fatigue

Supporting Mental Health

A community benefits when mental health is encouraged and supported. The Mental Wellness Network of Waterloo Region is a local public health committee that believes every person has the right to be supported in living a healthy positive life. This local initiative has launched a mission is to promote mental health and wellbeing for people across the span of their lives and to foster stronger, connected communities where everyone feels they belong. The Mental Wellness Network has adopted The Ways to Wellbeing, a simple five-pronged approach to supporting mental health within our community. There are several ways each individual can support these pillars of mental health you, and may even being doing some of these things already!

When we have meaningful relationships, we   feel like we belong, we feel valued, and we have support when we face challenges.

Being active helps reduce feelings of worry, improves our mood, increases our self-esteem, and helps us cope with stress.

Being mindful helps us control our emotions, makes us aware of our needs, and helps us enjoy the world around us.

When we learn new things, we feel a sense of purpose and achievement and we improve our self-confidence.


Giving helps us feel good, allows us to grow closer to one another, builds our trust, and helps us to feel thankful and positive.

What’s great about the Ways to Wellbeing is that it allows you to create a resource for activities you can practice daily to help maintain mental health. As you practice these small acts of self care, you foster a sense of resilience which further strengthens positive mental health. The website has a great resource page for both individuals and healthcare practitioners to refer to which helps us mindfully incorporate the five ways into our daily life. To find out more about the Ways to Wellbeing or to access individual resources please visit: https://www.waystomentalwellbeing.com.

Let’s end stigma and change the conversation around Mental Health. Practicing the Ways to Mental Wellbeing can be a valuable resource to preserve and nurture positive mental health. When we invest in our mental health we not only strengthen ourselves as individuals but as a community.

Some additional blog posts you might be interested in are;

Finding Balance

Busting Stress

Mindfulness Self Care

Family Friendly Stress Busting Yoga

Disclaimer: The information contained in these topics is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, it is provided for educational purposes only. This information shouldn’t take the place of seeing a Naturopathic Doctor or your primary care provider for individualized health recommendations.

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