Our mental health is incredibly important for our day-to-day lives, as it affects our everyday actions, behaviors, and thoughts. Several external factors can cause mental health to be afflicted negatively, especially considering the recent global crisis many of us have faced. However, we are our own strongest supporter, and through the acts set by this guide, you can work to improve your mental health day by day.
Self-Improvement: A Gradual Process
The decline of one’s mental health is a slow but steady process – lack of sleep, constant everyday stress, and generally going about without paying attention to the most important person in your life – yourself. These build up over time and can leave someone without the ability to cope when they’ve reached the end of their line.
On the flip side, checking these habits and acknowledging areas for opportunity can be greatly beneficial in improving mental health. Self-care is not an instant fix, but rather a series of attainable goals that, when reached, provide a step in the direction of better mental health.
The wonderful thing about self-care is that it entirely relies on how you find comfort, and uses this comfort therapeutically, for stress relief and energy replenishing. Has your appetite declined? Cook or order yourself your favorite meal! Feel overworked during the day? Use an afternoon or time off to devote entirely to yourself and enjoy what you like to do! Whether that be reading a good book, enjoying that show you’ve been putting off, or even going outside for some exercise, if you feel comfort doing it – go ahead!
You Are Never Alone
Mental illness tends to be stigmatized as a weakness or flaw in a person. This could not be further from the truth. We are all human – life can be physically and mentally draining at points and when simple activities aren’t enough, we should have support systems to rely on during burdening times.
Our relationships with others can be used as a resource whenever we encounter troubling times, and mental health is no exclusion here. If you have a positive beacon in your life, whether it be friends, family members, or other peers, you should reach out to them in times of crisis, especially if you have deep connections. If someone knows and understands you enough, speaking out and looking to get assistance in your circumstances will only work to your benefit – a good friend will make you feel heard to provide a form of release for your thoughts.
Inversely, being a positive beacon to others is just as good a way to feel good about your actions and words. There exists a phenomenon known as “helper’s high“; when you are kind to someone else, your own brain’s pleasure and reward centers respond as if you were on the receiving end of the good deed. These good feelings also inspire yourself and others around you to spread some kindness of their own, which can start a chain of goodness.
Your college is also a space that has resources for mental health awareness and support. Many campuses offer free, accessible screenings that look for signs of mental health affliction and provide options for treatment within the school. These include confidential counseling services or invitations to campus support groups. For those less likely to speak up about their mental health, colleges also provide a hotline for calls or texts that allows students to speak anonymously if they’re feeling overwhelmed, lonely, depressed, or in mental distress. Don’t think that because you’re young and in college that you don’t need to speak out on your own behalf – treatment is important in younger ages, as you’ll be saving yourself from a future of unrealized trauma and deeper mental health issues.
When You Should Seek Treatment
Sometimes, it may not be enough for individual acts to quiet the storm going on in someone’s mind. Professional help exists for people with mental health issues and is just as normal as any other activity or resource. The important takeaway here is to not feel that your mental health or response to it is a debilitation to your overall character. You are the most important person in your life, so please, seek treatment if you feel necessary.
If you are experiencing any or multiple of the symptoms listed below, please consider looking for resources for mental health counseling or therapy:
- Losing interest in activities you would normally enjoy
- Going through a traumatic event, which can lead to PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder)
- Losing something or someone important to you
- Troubling thoughts or behavioral swings that you cannot explain
- Usage of drugs or alcohol to escape thoughts or feelings
Here are some resources that can be utilized for your reference:
Crisis Text Line – texting “Hello” to 741741 will connect you to a crisis counselor who provides 24/7 support and information for anyone
Disaster Distress Helpline – a call or text to 1(800)-985-5990 will provide you free, multilingual help for anyone experiencing emotional distress
National Suicide Prevention Hotline – available via phone call or through web chat, connects people to nearby crisis centers and provides counseling or mental health referrals
ISO plans also provide coverage for mental health and psychotherapy the same as any other sickness or injury – enroll soon and get covered!
We may have heard from others while growing up to “suck it up”, or “hang in there” when it comes to matters regarding our mental health but honestly, self-care is the bravest thing someone can do. Admitting your troubles and seeking help is a powerful step in the right direction, and to whoever needs to read this, ISO’s rooting for you.