Column: Doncaster woman explores the meaning behind the term 'mental health'

Lisa Fouweather explores the connotations surrounding the phrase ‘mental health’ and how shares tips on how she looks after her own mental well being.

Monday, 26th April 2021, 7:08 am

‘Mental Health’- two words that unfortunately still hold an awful lot of stigma.

Despite being seen as less taboo in comparison to the perception held by previous generations, mental health is still widely thought to only concern individuals who suffer with pre-existing mental

illnesses.

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Lisa Fouweather.
Lisa Fouweather.

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This, however, could not be further from the truth. It is a damaging narrative that prevents people from speaking out, when the reality is that mental health is something that concerns

everyone, and that everyone should talk about.

A similarly damaging narrative is the belief that we can only have ‘good’ or ‘bad’ mental health.

Viewing it from this perspective discredits all the people across the world who are ‘somewhere in between’- the people who can wake up feeling ‘on top of the world’ in the morning and go to bed

feeling lost without a purpose.

Whether you consider your own mental health to be ‘good’, ‘bad’, or ‘somewhere in between’, it is something that everyone needs to prioritise. Everyone needs to be reminded that looking after their

mental health is a lifelong commitment. We must all make a conscious effort to do the things that boost our mental health every single day.

Here’s why:

Mental health is something that we all have, and therefore we all need to look after it, regardless of how ‘good’ or ‘bad’ we perceive it to be.

On this basis, we must therefore seek to reframe our thinking about mental health, striving to remove all the stigma and preconceptions we have, perhaps subconsciously, attached to it.

Think about how our mental health can be likened to our physical health. Both require the same level of maintenance in order for us to stay well.

In the same way we wouldn’t go for days without brushing our teeth regardless of whether they are currently clean or not, we shouldn’t go for days without looking after our mind.

Neglecting our physical or mental health has the same consequences, none of which end well.

To avoid this happening- to avoid ‘the scales tipping’ into poor mental health territory- we must all take steps to maintain our mental health, with the same level of commitment we have to maintain

our physical health, getting enough sleep, eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, etc.

To reduce the likelihood of our mental health faltering, it is also incredibly important to remember to keep on top of our self-care routine, whether that looks like getting lost in a good book or having

some down time in front of the TV.

Try different things until you find what works for you. It doesn’t matter what it is/what it ends up being, all that matters is that it brings you happiness– pure, true happiness.And when you feel that sense of happiness, I hope that you realise your own strength, for you have done something many people fear.You have taken your mental health seriously.You have put yourself first. And for that, you should feel a sense of immense pride.

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Liam Hoden, editor.