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- Mental health includes our psychological, emotional and social well-being. It impacts the way you feel, think and act, as well as how you respond to stress, make choices and relate to others.
- Positive mental health helps people live happier, healthier lives.
- It’s not unusual to experience mental health problems. Many things contribute to problems with mental health; a few major factors include life experiences, biological factors and a family history of poor mental health.
- There are a number of early warning signs that may indicate a mental health problem such as sleeping or eating too little or too much, feeling like nothing matters, hearing voices, persistent memories or thoughts, having little or no energy and more.
- Realizing when you or a loved one needs help and seeking treatment isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength.
Experiencing stress and feeling low at times are part of life, but sometimes these things can negatively impact mental health. At SLMA, we understand the importance of mental health and want to help all our patients live the healthiest lives possible, both physically and mentally.
What is Mental Health?
Mental health is a broad term that includes our psychological, emotional and social well-being. It impacts the way you feel, think and act, as well as how you respond to stress, make choices and relate to others. Since it affects so many aspects of life, it’s easy to see that mental health is important.
Benefits of Positive Mental Health
Positive mental health helps people live happier, healthier lives. Some of the many benefits include:
- Realizing your full potential
- Working productively
- Coping with the stresses of life
- Making meaningful contributions to your community
Mental Health Problems
It’s not unusual to experience mental health problems. When these problems occur, they can impact your thinking, behavior and mood. Many things contribute to problems with mental health; a few major factors may include:
- Life experiences, like abuse or trauma
- Biological factors, including brain chemistry and genes
- A family history of poor mental health
Although mental health problems occur frequently, there is help available. People suffering from mental health problems can improve and many completely recover.
Early Warning Signs of Mental Health Problems
There are a number of early warning signs that may indicate a mental health problem. If you notice one or more of the following signs in yourself or a loved one, it’s important to seek help from a medical professional.
- Sleeping or eating too little or too much
- Withdrawing from people and normal activities
- Feeling like nothing matters
- Having little or no energy
- Increase in drinking, smoking or drug use
- Increased feelings of forgetfulness, anger, confusion, worry, anxiety or fear
- Severe mood swings
- Hearing voices
- Persistent memories or thoughts
- Inability to carry out regular daily tasks
- Thinking of harming yourself or others
Promoting Mental Health
The benefits of positive mental health and the frequency of mental health problems make it important to work toward good mental health. Here are a few of the many things you can try to promote positive mental health.
Make an effort to care for yourself. Do things you enjoy or that broaden your horizons. Avoid criticizing yourself and treat yourself with respect and kindness.
Care for Your Body
Physical health has a big impact on mental health. Take care of your body by:
- Getting enough sleep
- Eating nutritious food
- Drinking plenty of water
- Exercising regularly
- Not smoking
Develop Strong Connections
A strong family and social network is also important. Spend time with supportive friends and family to develop these significant relationships. Consider trying activities where you can develop new relationships, like a support group, a new hobby or volunteering.
Learn to Deal with Stress
Stress is a normal part of life and something we all have to face. Developing good coping skills can help you deal with stress in a positive way and protect your mental health. The following are a few examples of coping skills:
- A walk in nature
- Journal writing
- Playing with a pet
- Smiling and looking for the humor in life
Quiet Your Mind
Mediation, prayer, mindfulness and relaxation exercises are great practices to cultivate that can help improve your outlook on life and state of mind.
Limit Drugs and Alcohol
People sometimes turn to drugs and alcohol to deal with stress or mental health problems, but these substances make things worse. Limit alcohol and avoid drugs to help protect your mental health.
Realizing when you need help and seeking treatment isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength. Treatment is effective and can help you live a healthier, more rewarding life.
Mental health is an important part of overall health and well-being. Take steps to protect your mental health by developing habits that promote positive mental health, watching for early warning signs and seeking help when necessary.