Every year, about 4,000 people die by suicide in Canada. Depression is nearing epidemic levels. The stigma and other barriers stop two-thirds of people who suffer from mental illness from getting help. In our mental health series, learn our stories—and help save the “sad generation,” the most medicated of all youth in history.
What Is Mental Health?
Mental illness may seem like it only affects a rare few. But according to the Canadian Mental Health Association, every single Canadian is affected directly or indirectly through a relative, friend or colleague. Twenty per cent of Canadians will personally experience mental illness.
Many are often silent on this topic, but sufferers of mental illness surely aren’t alone. That’s why Mental Health Month is so important in keeping the conversation around mental health in Canada going through all of May. Mental health issues include depression, anxiety, self-esteem, ADHD, bipolar disorder and more—so there’s plenty of ground to cover and preconceptions to break when it comes to mental illness.
Mental Health Resources
Luckily, education is more widespread and easier to access than ever before. Schools are placing higher importance on emotional intelligence as well as academic, social, physical, and artistic skills in their curriculum, teaching coping methods for anxiety and delayed gratification to their students. Since Generation Y is sometimes called the “sad generation” for being the most-medicated in history, this new area of intelligence comes at a great time.
The topic of mental health is complex, and if you feel you are suffering from mental illness then you should consult a professional who can offer expert advice. But for many of us, regardless of age, a good boost to our mental health diet is in our own control.
Here are some easy tips on how to improve your emotional and mental well-being:
- Take credit for your achievements. Too often we downplay our accomplishments, goals or tasks well-done in our own minds. It’s always nice to hear compliments from others, but one can’t rely only on those for validation or congratulations. Be your own No. 1 fan and watch your self-esteem soar.
- Take care of your body. Physical health and mental health are strongly correlated. Getting enough rest, drinking enough water, eating right, exercising, getting some sunlight, and avoiding drugs and alcohol are great ways to boost your energy and your mood.
- Surround yourself with positive people and learn from each other. A positive attitude is one of the most contagious things in the world. But the same can be said for a pessimistic one. Make sure that the people you spend time with are going to be helpful to your self-esteem, stress levels and outlook on life. Your mutual positive mental state will greatly improve each other’s mental health, especially if you do selfless acts like volunteering or charity work, which will make everyone feel better.
- Manage your stress levels. The damaging effects of stress on one’s physical health are well documented, but stress can be just as harmful to one’s mental and emotional health. A proper work-life balance is key to managing stress. Relaxing and meaningful activities like walking through a garden, neighbourhood or art gallery, a new hobby like a musical instrument or crafts, writing, reading, listening to music, cooking, or just talking to a friend are all great ways to reduce stress. They’ll even help strengthen your mind too.
- Slow down your brain. It’s okay to do one task at a time. If you’re going for a walk, try not to make a To-Do list in your brain. If you’re having a coffee with a friend, turn off your phone and go completely offline. It’s also just fine to daydream for a bit and let your mind wander, or write down your thoughts in a journal. Some self-reflection, peace and quiet will help you relax, gain perspective on your day and yourself, and prepare yourself for another day.
* * * * *
What tips and advice works for you to improve your mental health and overall well-being? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below.