A Universal Human Right

by Brian Woods

World Mental Health Day is on 10th October. Using the theme of Mental Health is a universal human right, it’s objective is, “to raise awareness of mental health issues around the world and to mobilise efforts in support of mental health.“

Perhaps it is also a time to reflect on our own individual mental health. How can we maintain our well-being ?

Our society is increasingly stressful. We lead busy lives. Technology often rules us. So it is a good idea to sometimes take a break from all this. Taking time out from a busy day can boost our mental wellbeing. You might go for a coffee with a friend, lose yourself in a good book, or go for a walk. Whatever you do, just do it and take some ‘me time.‘ It will pay dividends for your well-being.

Life can sometimes seem overwhelming. Our problems and issues pile up and crowd in upon us. In the past I have tried to resolve too many problems all at once, but it never worked! I have found that it is much more effective to deal with them one at a time, prioritising them in order of importance. It leads to less anxiety and more peace of mind.

Regular exercise is also vital in maintaining our mental health. Going to a gym, running, cycling or walking can all help. A number of scientific studies have shown that walking in particular is good for mental well-being.

What we eat and drink can also affect our mental health. The right diet is really important and it is often overlooked. There is a lot of information about this topic online. However, it is best to go to a reliable source such as Mind. Their website contains some useful information about food and mental health.

I have found that meditation can help with my anxiety too. One example occurred recently when I was asked to do an hour-long talk via Zoom. Having not done anything like this before I was a little anxious about it.

My anxiety was at a reasonable level until about an hour before I was due to deliver the talk. Then it suddenly soared. But what could I do about it? I then remembered meditation. After a ten-minute session of this, I felt calm again and successfully did the talk.

The Mental Health Foundation website has a lot of helpful information about mindfulness, which involved meditation.

We can also look out for other people. They may be struggling with mental ill-health too. Having an honest conversation with someone may help them – especially if you have lived experience of it yourself.

The most effective way to bring about change to our crumbling mental health system is to make our voices heard. For example, I am a campaigner for the mental health charity, Mind.

Mind are currently running a campaign for the reform of the Mental Health Act. This is now 40 years old and it is no longer fit for purpose. A new act is urgently needed. This will give people more of a say in their treatment and it will strengthen their rights while in hospital. As I write this, the target of 25,000 signatories to the Mind petition has almost been reached. We can achieve much together.