The Importance Of Mental Health: An Expert Tells You Everything
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We are living in unprecedented times. Knowledge is easier to obtain, than any time in human history. With a click or a swipe we are able to instantly access information that we would have taken days or even weeks to get hold of, even a couple of decades ago.We can access, share and connect with each other at the speed of thought itself. As a result, we are witnessing a blossoming of human knowledge and connectivity.
Yet, as our ability to access facts and information has increased along with the number of connections, we seem to have forgotten to evolve one key nugget of knowledge: how to remain mentally well. Indeed, we seem to be living in a time where mental wellness really is at a premium.
I am a doctor working in the field of child and adolescent psychiatry, with a real passion for mental wellness. It is my privilege to work with young people who herald from all walks of life, and provide a nudge to change their trajectory, just a few degrees (a few degree change in direction early on in a journey can result in a completely different destination!). In my line of work, I see a generation that is suffering with problems that no previous generation ever faced. This is the result of bullying that young people face. Of course, bullying in schools is not new. There have been bullies for as long as there have been children. The biggest difference has always been that the bullying was confined to a time and a place. When I was in school, home used to be a safe place, where the bullies couldn’t follow. This is no longer the case. Bullying can start in school and follow a child into their bedroom, and continue during any time of day. It can result in loss of self-esteem.
To top it all, the constant sense of FOMO that social media generates, means that young people never really learn to be present. Imagine going to a restaurant that served every possible meal that can be enjoyed. It sounds incredible, right? But there’s a catch. The restaurant serves the food on a conveyor belt and once it’s gone, it’s gone. A burger comes along and you take a bite, but as you are chewing it you see an incredible looking sushi. Down goes the burger, and a bite of the sushi starts, until a better dish appears, moments later. You can see how this would result in a very unsatisfactory experience. It will mean that no single meal is enjoyed. Social media is giving us the same experience with the constant flow of posts that mean we never really learn to be present and give anything our real attention.
All of this should change.
I'm on a mission to empower people all over the world to take ownership of their mental health. It is absolutely my belief that we should all take ownership of our mental well-being, and work on it in the same way we would with our physical wellness. Common wisdom says we should exercise, sleep right, and eat right, et cetera, so that we can take care of our hearts. Nobody would agree, we can do what we like, and then see a cardiologist, if we feel unwell and experience a cardiac problem. However, that does appear to be the unspoken agreed upon wisdom when it comes to mental health.
Even the phrase "mental health" has negative connotations, meaning we have already started from the wrong place. I am aiming to change all that, to give mental health the positive platform, it rightly deserves. Let us embrace the idea of being mentally well, as a process that doesn’t end, but rather evolves throughout our lives. Let us start to learn to identify our own thoughts and emotions, and what drives them. Let us learn to be present and to be in the moments that we are experiencing. Once we start understanding ourselves, we will achieve the cornerstone of being mentally well.
Dr Hassan Yasin is a locum consultant, child and adolescent psychiatrist, and the founder of moodit- a mood-sharing mental wellness app. He is also a health council member at healthunt.