Good mental health describes a state in which we reach our full potential in both our work and social lives, and a general feeling of being able to cope.
Mental Health Awareness Week runs from the 13th- 19th of May, encouraging us to be more aware and talk about mental health issues – both for those who have ‘diagnosed’ mental health issues as well as promoting good mental health for all.
Mental health issues affect as many as one out of four of us in any given year. Given this startling statistic, it is evident that we all need to be more aware of the importance of good mental health, and be able to discuss the issue and remove the stigma attached to mental health issues.
Recent debate on the issue of mental illness has been considering whether or not we should reclassify mental illness. The Society’s Division of Clinical Psychology (DCP) yesterday issued a statement calling for a ‘paradigm shift’ in how issues of mental health are understood. The statement argues that “psychiatric diagnosis is often presented as an objective statement of fact, but is, in essence, a clinical judgment based on observation and interpretation of behaviour and self-report, and thus subject to variation and bias”. This will effectively cast doubt on the theory that those with mental illnesses are able to be treated solely by doctors using drugs. Experts have argued for some time previous to this that the current system relies too much on medical approaches for mental health problems and consequently underplays the social and psychological causes. Whilst the DCP is not used in this country, it is hugely influential, so the controversy and debate is set to continue.
This year, Mental Health Awareness Week’s campaign in the UK is focused on promoting good mental health through physical activity and exercise. While we all know that we should exercise to prevent obesity and other chronic illnesses, it is less well know that exercise also benefits our mental wellbeing. This is because exercise releases serotonin – the chemical in your brain which contributes to happiness – which enables us to deal better with stress and negative emotions and promotes a higher self-esteem. So now there’s one more reason for us to stop avoiding the gym!
For more information on how you can support the campaign, visit http://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/our-work/mentalhealthawarenessweek