Updated: Feb 24, 2020
In part 1 of the series Mental Health for Success, we explored some mental illnesses and disorders. We raised awareness on how our different circumstances may lead us into anxiety or depression. When we talk about mental health, we often dwell on the negative aspects of mental illness and disorders. As a result, our society shuns the subject, using mythical assumptions that stigmatize people living with mental illness. The conversation on mental health is broad and complex. As such, this series seeks to create a better understanding of mental health and ensure that Future Black Females around the globe are equipped with the knowledge and tools to challenge the stigma and get help sooner rather than later.
Mental health exists within the cycle of our lives and experiences. It is the level of psychological well-being or the absence of mental illness; and includes our psychological, emotional, spiritual, and social well-being. In simpler terms, good mental health thrives when you feel happy and can contain as well as give off positive energy. It is also in how we interact and relate with the people around us that we determine our state of mental health. Our ability to handle stress and pressure can also affect our mental health, negatively and positively. Good mental health comes from successfully managing our levels of stress. Over the course of life, our states of mind respond to different levels of emotional and psychological dynamics. There are events occurring in our lives that we may not be able to control. Our ability to understand and accept this helps us to learn how to successfully manage our stress levels.
These are the terms that you should know as necessary for good mental health;
It is an attitude that highlights the good aspects of your life, rather than the negative and failures. Carrying a positive attitude helps to maintain confidence in all that you do, cultivating a good state of mind for success. With a positive attitude you worry less about failure. When things don't work out exactly as you desired, you are still encouraged and willing to try again. Positivity is the understanding that the negative or failed attempts are still growth and opportunities to do better next time.
Being assertive means expressing yourself freely without fear or aggression. Assertiveness can help you manage stress and improve coping skills. When you are assertive you are able to say no to responsibilities that may be overwhelming and result in stress. Being assertive shows that you value your interests and you’re willing to stand up for them. However, it is based on mutual respect and shows that you are also willing to resolve conflicts with others. This is essential to maintain a good state of mental health. You earn respect from others and are able to control factors around you.
3. Support system
Good mental health depends on the support that we get from our loved ones. Support systems are where we fuel our strengths and positive energy. Part of that is being able to ask for support as well as give it in a healthy and balanced way. Our family and friends make up the nuclear system, our churches or local communities make up the next level, while service providers like therapists and physicians make up the outer ring. A good support system promotes good mental health by providing a support structure that balances us as we fall back. When we consistently exchange support with the people around us we become more aware of our capabilities.
Self-care refers to activities designed to maximise on relaxation and emotional well-being. These include activities such as meditating, journaling, counseling and yoga or exercise. Engaging in self-care allows our minds and bodies to remain resilient. It also helps increases positive emotions and good general health. When you are calm and feeling good, you are able to manage stressful situations through your response and actions.
The general opinion that you have about yourself has an impact on your mental health. High self-esteem means believing in yourself, that you are worthy of love, happiness, and success. This is important for good mental health as it makes you aware of your worth. It also encourages self-love, which makes you strive for a successful life and happier relationships.
Success in maintaining good mental health is the sum of small efforts repeated day in day out. At this point, we can agree that good mental health is cultivated in a safe and peaceful environment. We may not always be able to control our environments, but we can control how we respond to our circumstances. All the steps that we take towards good mental health are part of a process in which we ought to invest ourselves in. Remembering that as the famous saying goes, Rome was not built in a day, our mental health is also a journey on which we ought to be patient with ourselves. Taking each step one day at a time, we learn to challenge the stigma around mental health as well as get help for ourselves. Above all, Black Female you are the most important part of this conversation! As we strengthen our Mental Health for Success, remember that this is how We Win Together.