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How To Look After Your Mental Health

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Look After Your Mental Health

Mental health doesn’t discriminate, it doesn’t have a criterion to which it can attack. Whether you are a man or a woman, depression doesn’t care, it affects anyone.

Certain phrases are used frequently in our society whenever a boy or young man expresses vulnerability, such as “Boys don’t cry,” “Take it like a man,” or even “Don’t be such a girl.” In Ndebele they say “Inyembezi zendoda ziwela esifubeni?” These terms are incredibly common and often used as a way to get boys to stop being upset about something.

Yes, those could probably make you look stronger, but they can’t solve our mental health struggles. Let’s remember that mental health is not something to be taken lightly. It’s okay to reach out for help! Whether it’s talking to a trusted friend, seeking professional counseling, or practicing self-care, resources are available to assist you on your journey.

Did you know

Did you know that mental health issues affect 1 in 4 people worldwide? That’s a staggering number! It’s time to acknowledge the importance of mental health and provide support for those who need it. Let’s create a society where seeking help for mental health is encouraged.

Remember, it’s crucial to prioritize our mental health, just as we do our physical health. Let us work together to create a society that embraces mental well-being, supports one another, and breaks the barriers surrounding mental health.

Gender differences in suicide

Gender differences in suicide rates are significant. There are different rates of suicides and suicidal behaviour between males and females (among both adults and adolescents). While females more often have suicidal thoughts, males die by suicide more frequently. This discrepancy is also known as the gender paradox in suicide.

In the Western world, males die by suicide three to four times more often than females. This greater male frequency is increased in those over the age of 65. Suicide attempts are between two and four times more frequent among females.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), challenges represented by social stigma, the taboo to openly discuss suicide, and low availability of data are obstacles leading to poor data quality for both suicide and suicide attempts. The organization states that “given the sensitivity of suicide – and the illegality of suicidal behavior in some countries – it is likely that under-reporting and misclassification are greater problems for suicide than for most other causes of death.

Factors

Many researchers have attempted to find explanations for why gender is such a significant indicator for suicide. A common explanation relies on the social constructions of hegemonic masculinity and femininity. According to literature on gender and suicide, male suicide rates are explained in terms of traditional gender roles. Male gender roles tend to emphasize greater levels of strength, independence, risk-taking behaviour, economic status, and individualism. Reinforcement of this gender role often prevents males from seeking help for suicidal feelings and depression.

Preventive strategies

In the United States, both the Department of Health and Human Services and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention address different methods of reducing suicide but do not recognize the separate needs of males and females. In 2002, the English Department of Health launched a suicide prevention campaign that was aimed at high-risk groups including young men, prisoners, and those with mental health disorders. The Campaign Against Living Miserably is a charity in the UK that attempts to highlight this issue for public discussion.

 Some studies have found that because young females are at a higher risk of attempting suicide, policies tailored towards this demographic are most effective at reducing overall rates. Researchers have also recommended more aggressive and long-term treatments and follow-ups for males who show indications of suicidal thoughts. Shifting cultural attitudes about gender roles and norms, and especially ideas about masculinity, may also contribute to closing the gender gap.

Eat well

Eat a well-balanced, nutritional diet and cut back on alcohol/drugs

More and more research is coming out by the year associating diet with one’s mental well-being. Poor diets and unhealthy eating can affect your physical health. Which may in turn negatively impact your mental health, but even unhealthy food itself can directly make you feel worse.

Eating a healthy and well-balanced diet containing fats, fibre, and nutrients will help you manage your stress and anxiety levels. They also improve your sleep, positively impact your ability to concentrate, and help you feel better in general. Another key to improving your mental well-being is cutting back on excessive alcohol and/or drug consumption. Both of these substances can affect the way your brain feels and works. While harming your ability to think, feel, create, and even make decisions.

Get enough sleep.

Make a concerted effort to go to sleep at a regular, early time

Sleep is linked with numerous health-related consequences, both physical and mental. While some psychological or psychiatric issues may cause sleep problems. Not getting enough sleep itself can also exacerbate pre-existing conditions such as depression, stress and anxiety. Getting enough hours of sleep consistently, every night. and getting to bed early or at a reasonable hour is a smart strategy towards living a healthy, happy life.

Keep Active.

Commit to some form of regular consistent exercise

Much like diets and sleep, exercise or other physical activity impacts both your body and your mind. Keeping active, whether it’s playing sport, going for long walks, practicing Yoga, going to the gym, or running, will help lower stress and anxiety levels, as well as help you improve your self-esteem. Being active and exercising isn’t easy for everyone. If you struggle, try motivating yourself by running with a friend or listening to your favourite music/podcasts while going on a long walk. Just keep moving.

Limit media & technology use

Try reducing your amount of technology use and media consumption on a daily basis

You might not consider yourself addicted to social media, or your smartphone and other devices, but it is often much more difficult to limit or reduce media consumption and technology use than you’d expect. The impacts of excessive and prolonged social media and other media consumption can be harmful. Even over-consumption of news can negatively impact your mental well-being. There’s no need to cut it out completely from your life and go cold turkey. But try limiting when or how you use it. Here are some specific pieces of advice to help you with this tip:

•           Keep your phone out of your bedroom so it’s not the last thing you check before going to sleep or the first thing you look at in the morning.

•           Don’t use your phone half an hour before bed, or avoid using your phone before doing your morning routine.

•           Put your phone down on another table during meal times where you can’t reach it.

•           Try challenging yourself by going a whole day without checking social media.

Focus on Friends

Try to reconnect and socialize with friends.

Connecting with others is an important part of living a balanced life. Socializing with genuine friends who you enjoy being around will help you feel better by staving off loneliness and negative feelings. You can find an activity that you enjoy, such as completing a puzzle or playing a board game, or you can simply catch up and chat. It’s up to you, but there’s no need to go it alone! Humans are social creatures, so focus on your friends.

Everyone needs help from time to time.

There is NOTHING wrong with seeking help for your mental health and well-being. Whether you just want to confide in a trusted friend or feel the need to engage the services of a professional, seeking help if you need it is the smart, mature, healthy thing to do. Unfortunately, our society still carries a bit of a stigma in regard to mental health and seeking help. But this is changing. People are beginning to understand not just how prevalent mental health issues are, but how important and normal it is to seek help. You don’t need to do this alone.

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