Mental health is a forgotten explosive. It sits ignored in a dusty, hidden corner of our minds until, in the second between thoughts, it explodes into the forefront of our consciousness. Stress, grief, or some unknown trick of the universe detonates the bomb, forcing us to pay attention.
Too many people brush aside mental health as some invisible, made-up concept until it poses a serious problem. We would know. We are some of those people.
No matter how much we ignore it, positive mental health will always be important to living a productive and meaningful life. It is a topic everyone needs to talk about.
Stigma and misconception create this notion of imaginary mental health issues, when, in fact, they are very real. This immediate dismissal of such a huge struggle our lives can make us feel slightly crazy. Because it is all in our minds, many easily regard mental health problems as an overreaction, a choice, or even an attention grabber.
Even now, with more teenagers and young adults coming forward with mental health problems, this topic has a bad reputation (and not of the Joan Jett variety). According to 232 responses in the January Network survey, 26.3 percent of Marian girls do nothing for their mental health, and 34.1 percent only do something occasionally for their mental health. Only 23.5 percent always consider mental health a priority. In such a high-stress environment, mental health should be a main concern for Marian students.
Many tend to prioritize physical health, because if our bodies are sick, we cannot function properly. They fail to realize the same goes for our minds.
Good mental health allows us to make positive contributions to our communities, have healthy relationships, and handle the rollercoaster that is life.
Better mental health even leads to better physical health, and vice versa. Exercise clears the debris from our minds, even if it’s just going for a leisurely walk outside while your dog drags you over to every person you pass.
One reason mental health seems like such a distant concept is because it affects everyone differently. There is no cookie cutter version of mental health, whether it is in good shape or bad shape. Whenever our brains are suffering from a lack of TLC, it chucks us down a never-ending path of excessive worrying and self doubt. Our minds have the uncanny ability to let us know when they feel neglected.
All of this talk about mental health and shaky hands may seem daunting, but taking care of mental health does not have to be boring or tedious. All it takes is some time set aside to relax and enjoy yourself, whether that’s once a week or once a day.
Some people use Lush bath bombs, which work wonders; others light a candle and read a book. Heck, some might even play the ukulele when they feel overwhelmed. It’s a little weird, but whatever works. Any form of creative expression helps many of us get through rough days; it gives the negativity a purpose. Self care takes many different forms, depending entirely on the individual, which means it can be whatever you wish.
However, no matter how insignificant your problems may seem, never be afraid to reach out to a professional. Getting enough sleep and trying to stay positive may not be enough for some people. Professionals help clients form coping skills to deal with the stresses of life. Sometimes it is a little awkward, but talking to a third party can make all the difference in the world.
While self care is not the end-all, be-all in the quest for happiness, it sure does help along the way. Mental health is the key to our perception of life, whether it is positive or negative. Instead of neglecting that potentially destructive explosive buried in the back of your mind, take some time to disarm and subdue it. Make it something beautiful and useful, because nobody, not even the people who plant them, likes bombs.
written on behalf of the Network staff by Copy Editor, Kathryn Baginski
Omaha Marian, Class A Editorial Writing