Taking Care of Your Mental Health

Menatl health matters

Taking Care of Your Mental Health

Do you understand why you should be taking care of your mental health? This article is has outlined the reason why mental health matters.


by Lauretta Ani

April 11, 2021



Take care of your mental health

Labake awoke one morning feeling fatigued and miserable. She tried to shrug off the feeling as she prepared for work but it only got worse and by the end of the day, she had had skirmishes with a few co-workers. When she spoke with her sister on the phone a few days later, Labake could not pinpoint why she felt the way she did, all she knew was that she felt depressed and anxious and the stress of work only served to exacerbate the emotions.

Do you sometimes wear the same shoes as Labake? Is Labake taking care of her mental health?



What is Mental Health?

According to the World Health Organization [WHO], mental health is a state of well-being in which an individual realizes his or her abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively, and can make a contribution to his or her community. It is imperative to note that mental health differs from mental disorder, which according to WHO is generally characterized by a combination of abnormal thoughts, perceptions, emotions, behaviour, and relationships with others.

Mental health is on a continuum and can swing from one end to the other depending on one’s circumstances. We must pay attention to our mental health if we intend to live a healthy, fulfilling life.


Five Warning Signs of a Mental Health Crisis

The presence of the following in a person’s life may signify an urgent need for professional help:

  1. Difficulty performing usual activities such as brushing and bathing: A persistent lack of willingness to get out of bed and perform routine tasks may be a sign that one is having a mental health crisis.
  2. Self-Harm/Suicidal Thoughts: Engaging in self-harming behaviour or entertaining suicidal thoughts are signs that a person needs immediate professional attention.
  3. Isolation: Consistently feeling the need to isolate oneself from familiar faces such as family members or colleagues at work could signify the onset of a mental health crisis.
  4. Paranoia: A persistent feeling of suspicion and mistrust of the people in one’s environment may be a sign that a mental health crisis is brewing.
  5. Psychosis: When a person experiences strange voices and sees things that are not visible to other humans in the environment, it is a sign that urgent professional attention is required.

While this is by no means an exhaustive list, suffice to say that experiencing four or five of these signs necessitates the need to see a mental health professional. Unfortunately, a lot of people feel reluctant to seek help largely because of two reasons:

  • Ignorance of mental health and mental disorders: Believe it or not, quite many people are still largely uninformed or misinformed about mental health and what it entails. It, therefore, follows that such people may find it difficult to seek professional help when they need it.
  • Fear of stigmatization: Unfortunately, stigmatization still happens in many parts of the world. A good number of people find it difficult to open up about their mental state because they fear being labelled and discriminated against by society.


Whatever the case may be, people must be encouraged to seek help when they need it. Just as there is nothing wrong with visiting a doctor when we have physical ailments, so it should be a normal thing to visit a mental health professional when our mental health is suffering. There should be no shame associated with getting professional help!


Are you taking care of your mental health?


How can we preserve our mental health?

We can preserve our mental health by engaging in the following activities:


  1.  Eating nutritious meals: The importance of a healthy diet cannot be overemphasized as a balanced diet leads to fewer mood fluctuations, a happier outlook, and an improved ability to focus, according to Dr. Gabriela Cora, a licensed psychiatrist.
  2. Getting adequate sleep: It is easy to underestimate the importance of getting adequate sleep, however, research shows that poor sleep is linked to mental health problems like anxiety and depression. Aim to get at least eight hours of sleep daily and practise healthy habits such as not using your phone at least thirty minutes before you go to bed.
  3. Having a support system: It is important to cultivate a strong social network as our family and friends serve as a support system. Having a strong support system promotes mental health and helps to alleviate problems caused by stress.
  4. Having a sense of purpose: This is a salient factor. Having a strong sense of who we are and our purpose in life helps us to maintain good mental health.
  5. Exercising regularly: Research shows that exercise helps to reduce depression and anxiety and promotes good self-esteem. It also improves sleep patterns and increases the possibility of social interaction which is key to developing good mental health. Exercising at least five times a week for thirty minutes to an hour is recommended to improve mental health.
  6. Talk to someone: Ask for help if you feel your mental health is being affected. There is no shame in admitting that you need assistance, remember that everyone needs support at some point or another in their lives.
  7. Take time off: Do not hesitate to take time off from work or school if you feel a mental health crisis brewing. As the saying goes, a stitch in time saves nine.

Engaging in recreational activities is taking care of your mental health.


How can you show support for someone undergoing a mental health crisis?

  1. Let them know much you care by being available to listen, however, do not pressurize the person to talk until he or she feels ready to.
  2. Affirm the person using positive statements. Let him/her know how valuable they are as a person.
  3. Know your limits and help them get professional support when needed. Keep in mind that if the person is a family member, they may feel reluctant to talk to you and may prefer to speak with a professional instead. Try not to take it too personally.
  4. If someone expresses suicidal thoughts, encourage them to get professional help immediately.


In summary, it is important to remember that the state of our mental health will determine how productive we are in our everyday life. Pay attention to your mental health and do not underestimate its effect on your life. Reach out for professional support when the need arises, you will be glad you did.

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