What mental health and Mental Health Awareness Month is all about

Mental health is a state of psychological and emotional well-being in which a person recognises his or her abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively, and can contribute to his or her society. As stated by the World Health Organization -

“Mental health is more than the absence of mental disorders". It is vital to health and overall wellbeing because “without mental health, there is no health.”

Good mental health during childhood is essential for an individual’s overall development and for reaching one’s own full potential. It’s a vital resource for living a healthy life and the main factor in overall wellbeing.

Important factors that influence our mental health

Mental health in children, as well as in adults, can be positively or negatively influenced by:

▪ life experiences, such as family situation at home, health condition of near dear ones, death of loved ones, and so on.

▪ relationships with people around you such as - friends, family members, schoolmates, etc.

▪ work or school environment

▪ your own physical health, lifestyle, and genetics

▪ coping skills in any environment

▪ the type of neighborhood you live in – if it is a supportive and trusting community or one where everyone keeps to themselves.

So take care of your mental health the same way you do take care of your physical health. It takes practice, patience and support.

You can improve your mental health by:

• Knowing and accepting that life can be challenging.

• Knowing and acceptV your strengths and weaknesses.

• Setting realistic goals for yourself.

• Accepting yourself and others. This is the basis of self-esteem.

• Learning to recognise, understand that you and others have both positive and negative feelings.

• Creating a sense of meaning in your life by learning and trying new activities, like starting a hobby. Also, making healthy, trusting relationships with people who accept and support you.

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Getting help isn’t a sign of weakness but it’s a strength and bravery.

“Asking for help is never a sign of weakness. It’s one of the bravest things you can do. And it can save your life.”― Lily Collins

We have all encountered unprecedented misery and loss during the COVID 19 pandemic. We know this has affected our staff, our students, their families, and our health care delivery system. From the very beginning due to COVID 19 pandemic, the world has noticed its impact on people's mental health and wellbeing. Time has now come to undoubtedly work in collaboration with others to help those people especially our children who have been hardest hit due to stress, depression, anxiety, and even due to antisocial behavioral patterns. We need to better understand mental health and explore and distinguish between mental health and mental illness. For someone dealing with a mental health condition, stigma and misunderstanding can affect everything - starting from their education and career to their personal relationships with loved ones and others.

At Sir John Wilson School, we have also taken steps and are committed to supporting the emotional, behavioral, social, and mental health needs of all our young learners and adolescents, to some degree their parents as well as our valued staff. School bulletin boards have been decorated to convey the messages to children. Moreover, the Guidance Counsellor is there to conduct one–to–one or group sessions to resolve children’s day to-day mental glitches. We are eager to share videos and essential resources to bring more awareness to mental health toils and help reduce stigmas.

Mental Health Awareness Month is important because this issue has been overlooked until something significant happens like a death by suicide or a celebrity having some sort of a breakdown. According to mental health advocate Achea Redd - “Mental health is health and deserves to be put on the forefront just like the other ailments we recognize throughout the year. The more we put it out front, the less stigma and the more normalized it becomes.” During this Mental Health Awareness Month, we are welcoming ALL to challenge the stigma. You may start conversations (both children and adults), open up your views and share educational and useful resources/write ups that will make a real difference in your life, as well as someone else's life to how we talk, act, and think about mental health and wellbeing.

We believe it is a great chance for all of us to converse about mental health in general and without any hesitation; thus explore scientifically proven highly-rated mental health courses-techniques, and start challenging what you and those around you know about mental health.

* Sabrina Haque is Guidance Counsellor of Sir John Wilson School

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