Mental Health Matters

by Bryan Woods

Bryan Woods

We often spend time and effort in looking after our physical health, which is of course important. But it is vital that we take care of our mental health too. Then we are well balanced in both body and mind.

I manage my own mental health in a variety of ways. One of the most important things to me is to stay connected with other people. I live alone nowadays and I am sometimes quite content with my own company. But I still need to interact with people.

Over the past ten years I have volunteered with a number of charities and organisations. Among these is Havant & East Hants Mind. I have been a Volunteer Peer Support Worker with HEH Mind for the past two years.

During that time I have helped to run various support groups. This is very satisfying and it gives me a sense of purpose. I also work with some wonderful people who I might not otherwise have met. This is very beneficial for my own mental health.

However, I have to be careful not to take on too much. I have sometimes done this in the past and have been very stressed as a result. That is not good for my own mental health. I have to maintain a balance. It is essential for me to make time for hobbies and activities.

Art has played a big part in my ongoing recovery from mental ill-health. Now that spring is here I will be doing some more outdoor sketching. This combines my passion for drawing and painting, together with nature and landscape. I find this very therapeutic and relaxing.

Another of my interests is writing. I write three regular online blogs for different charities and organisations, including Hammersley Homes. I have always suffered from low self-esteem. Therefore seeing my articles online is a real boost to my self-confidence. This in it’s turn also helps my mental health.

I also have to make sure that I take my medication every morning. This has been considerably reduced over the years. However, I still have a medication review with my doctor every six months.

Today I experience episodes of depression much less frequently. When I do get depressed I know how to deal with it. I just sit quietly and take things one step at a time. I also remind myself that the depressive episode will eventually pass. I find that this really helps when life seems to be overwhelming and bleak.

I no longer try to deal with anxiety and depression by self-medicating with alcohol. That was a big mistake, as it ultimately made both issues even worse. Instead I attend a support group that has helped greatly in my recovery.

As a society we have made considerable progress in recognising that mental health is as important as physical health. But much still needs to be done. After all prevention is always much better than cure.