Mental Health Check-Ins and Wellness as Our New Norm

Progress Ime

September 06, 2020

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Editor's Note: The WITI Wellbeing Center offers classes designed to help you have a healthy approach to working at home and dealing with stress.

Why mental health is important
Mental health is defined as our emotional, social, cognitive, and physiological well-being. When mental health is addressed it can often be assumed that an individual is struggling with mental illness; however, it is important to remember that we all suffer with anxious thoughts, have moments of sadness, and become stressed from time to time, and that these feelings can alter our current mental status. These regular, very normal emotions are just milder forms and versions of serious mental illnesses because we are emotional beings with feelings, thoughts, and ambitions that, when we're not careful, can momentarily control us to the point where we may even unknowingly reflect them in our actions and attitude towards others. The unexpected events of 2020 have rocked the mental status and physical health of many worldwide. As we are still learning appropriate ways and means in which we can operate in our familiar circles, fear of contracting a virus with no current cure has heightened the anxiety levels of many individuals. Due to this increase, many are asking questions and seeking answers regarding their own mental health and overall well-being.

Top questions asked concerning mental health and well-being:

1) When is Mental Health Awareness month?
May is Mental Health Awareness month, a commemoration begun in 1949.

2) Are mental health issues rare? Mental health issues are very common. According to data collected by in 2014, one in five American adults experience mental health issues.

3) Are mental health issues hereditary? In 2019, data collected by the Mayo Clinic revealed that mental health issues are commonly traced and caused by a variety of genetic and environmental factors.

4) Can mental illness be cured? While there is no definitive cure, treatment options and medications are available to manage and regulate one's symptoms.

5) Can poor mental health affect my physical health? One's mental health status directly correlates to one's physical health. Just as poor physical health can lead to the development of mental health problems, poor mental health can have an impact on one's physical health. These two areas are inextricably interconnected.

6) What mental health problem do I have? People who feel mentally troubled naturally want to understand the reason for their problem. While the internet can offer some general insights, something as personal as your own individual mental health status cannot be answered with a few internet searches. A question as personal as this needs professional guidance.

7) How does mental health affect education? Mental health issues can hinder a student's performance in the classroom, resulting in lower grades and a lack of classroom engagement.These issues can also affect a student's energy level, concentration, dependability, mental ability, and optimism while tasked with engaging in learning.

8) Can mental health affect anyone? Yes. While mental health issues do not solely affect one race or gender, certain ones are more common in men or women, depending on the illness type.

9) How is mental health defined? The overall status of our social, emotional, and physiological well-being.

10) What mental illnesses are there? While there are countless specific manifestations of mental illness, some of the most common ones are anxiety disorders, behavioral and emotional disorders in children, bipolar affective disorder, depression, dissociation and dissociative disorders, eating disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder, and paranoia.

11) Is mental health important? It is extremely important because it affects multiple facets of our lives. Our mental health status helps to determine how we handle stress, how we relate to others, and impacts our decision-making process.

12) How has COVID-19 affected mental health? COVID-19 has caused a spike in overall stress, fear, and anxiety levels in people around the world due to the vast uncertainty surrounding this virus and the new �"normal” we are all forced to exist under. However, no COVID-19 symptoms are related to the development of mental health problems.

Why we should seek wellness instead of happiness
Wellness encompasses so much more than general happiness. Happiness, a word used to describe feelings of contentment and immense joy, is a fleeting emotion. While happiness is an essential element when gauging one's overall well-being, it is not the sole component. Well-being is described as the state of being healthy, happy, and comfortable, encompassing a multitude of areas in our life such as our ability to socialize with others, our individual intellect, our economic comfort, our spiritual foundation, our body's physique, mobility, and functionality, and our current emotional and physiological status.

Taking care of ourselves first
In a world full of many unpredictable factors, deciding we are important and prioritizing ourselves are essential steps to bettering our overall mental health and well-being. Our mental health status is showcased in our ability to manage stress, is displayed in how we socially engage and interact with others, and influences our decision-making. Whether it means shifting our self-talk towards positivity or deciding to accept our bodies for what they are and do for us, better mental health is a quality all of us should desire.

So what would happen if we all really took time to care for ourselves? Prioritizing ourselves, learning about ourselves, and allowing ourselves to grow as individuals is imperative if we desire to function in society and be instrumental in our community. Being self-aware of our mental health status and our overall well-being is not a selfish act. In a world that constantly desires to redirect our attention and push agendas we lack essential information about, we have to decide if those things are leading us towards good health or if they are clouding our better judgment. Are we pushing away people that could bring and add value to our lives, are we operating at less than our potential, and are we still able to find it in ourselves to move towards success despite evident difficulties along the way? Taking care of ourselves mentally is beneficial not just to us but to those surrounding us. Our ability to make a difference in our communities and world are better realized when we are balanced. When we are calm, centered, and focused, our actions reflect our healthier headspace. Taking care of our mental health is a choice, a choice worth making.

All WITI Wellbeing Center classes are free to members and appropriate for all levels, so sign up for as many as you like! If you'd like to invite a friend or colleague to one of the members-only classes, reply to this email and we'll send you a promo-code to allow them to take a class for free.

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Opinions expressed by the author are not necessarily those of WITI.

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