Rather than seeing care of mental health as a bourgeoisie concept, reserved for the rich, prioritising mental health is a gateway to more prosperous, stable societies and individuals.
Looking after one’s mental health isn’t always easy. Fortunately, it is becoming easier. Once mental health problems were deeply taboo, and it was difficult for people access the information required to effectively stave off and treat mental illness. Today, mental health is becoming less off-limits and is now a subject that we know that we should talk about, even if it makes us a little bit uncomfortable. With the power of the internet it is easier than ever to find information more discretely, which means that even those of us who don’t want to publicly acknowledge our struggles can still brush up on our knowledge. However, what if information technology isn’t just useful for giving us access to information but also provides us with innovative solutions too?
There are many effective ways to support your mental health. Unsurprisingly, looking after your body plays a big part in looking after your mind. Doing things to keep yourself healthy, like exercising, eating well and making sure that you get enough sleep will mean that you feel better day to day. A big part of this is sleep, as feeling less tired will not only mean that you feel better when taking on the challenges in your day, but it also means that you will engage with them more effectively and enjoy more success. Getting better sleep can be as simple as avoiding lit screens and bright lights for about an hour before bed, or it can be significantly more challenging. For example, forcing yourself to keep to a regular pattern; as difficult as it may be to do so on your day off, dragging yourself out of bed in the mornings it will help you keep more regular hours and this will, in turn mean that you sleep when you want to and don’t when you do not.
Another slightly more involved approach to looking after your mental health involves keeping your mind in good running order. This is easier said than done. However, taking some time to clear your mind, either through mediation or enjoying a small diversion such as reading a favourite book, can have a strong impact on your day-to-day wellbeing. Additionally, diet can play either a very positive or very negative role in how you feel and how you sleep. A big breakfast in the morning with the right amount of carbohydrates will set you up for the day, reducing the need to snack on high fat, high sugar foods, which will often leave you feeling hungry more of the time. Rich and processed food can also leave you feeling bloated and uneasy, rather than well nourished.
When it comes to looking after your mental health, one of the most effective ways to galvanise your psychological wellbeing against the onslaught of everyday life is talking therapy. Whether you are struggling to overcome the impact of other people’s non-acceptance of your race or sexuality, or the pain of loss, or a multitude of other issues, talking to a professional has many long-term benefits. This list of benefits includes stimulating psychological recovery from mental health problems, as well as allowing a person to come to understand themselves better and put themselves in a frame of mind where they are more able to achieve their ambitions.
In fact, therapy plays a big role in helping people to overcome all sorts of problems. Whatever your age or background, health bodies around the world recommend it for coping with difficult life events and as part of a treatment plan for overcoming certain disorders. For example, talking therapy plays a big part in the treatment of eating disorders and depression.
However, therapy in the traditional sense, also has its drawbacks. Whilst it is undoubtedly one of the most useful things that you can do for yourself, it can still be hard to manage. Although a qualified therapist is usually an expert in allowing you to open up in your own time, it can still be difficult to open up to a stranger face to face. In other cases, many people find it hard to find the time to travel and those with unpredictable or demanding lives may not be able to commit regular office hours each week. In general, there is a demand for more flexibility when it comes to engaging with talking therapy.
Fortunately, the rapid improvement of technology and innovative use of the internet offers a powerful solution. Online therapy is an emerging field which is rapidly gaining popularity and for good reasons. Rather than sharing the constraints of more traditional approaches to therapy, it offers a highly flexible way for people to engage with their therapists and gives everyone more control over the therapeutic relationship.
It allows for the therapy to be shaped more around personal needs, for example is easier to type than talk about deeply painful memories? Is it easier to call in your lunch break than it is to go for an hour after work? Is therapy something that you’re uncomfortable sharing with your loved ones at this stage? If so, explaining being off the grid for over an hour a week to your friends and family can cause more stress than it helps. This additional versatility means that a whole segment of people who otherwise would not have sought therapy, will be able to access life changing support through their tablets, laptops and smart phones.
Therapy is a multipronged discipline which requires a range of approaches to be effective. No-one envisions online therapy replacing the traditional therapists; sitting down with someone and talking can be one of the most effective ways to address a range of problems. However, for those people who are unable to engage with this, online therapy certainly provides an approach that that more traditional therapists cannot.