Is it irony that we’re starting to see the UK open back up again during Mental Health Awareness Month?
As Covic-19 continues to cause uncertainty and frustrations, our focus on Mental Wellbeing has never been more crucial.
In today’s article, we want to bring four important dates to your attention. We will also share the seven pillars to help support and strengthen your mental wellbeing.
Important Mental Health Dates in the UK:
- February 1st-7th – Children’s Mental Health Week
- May 6th 2021 – World Maternal Mental Health Day
- May 10 – 16th 2021 – Mental Health Awareness Week
- June 21st 2021 – Father’s Mental Health Day
I was toying with how to present these important days and decided against separating them. I believe that they are so interlinked that you can’t talk about one without the other.
Within each section we will share our top tips, resources and activities you can use to help boost your mental and emotional wellbeing.
Table of Contents:
- What is mental health?
- Maternal Mental Health
- Paternal Mental Health
- The 7 Pillars of Mental Health
What is Mental Health?
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines mental health as: “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community”.
Unlike the common definition for health that suggests that to be healthy is to ‘be free of illness or injury’, mental health is about capacity.
Mental Health seems to have a bad reputation and is commonly used with negative connotations. But really, mental health is just about the state of your psychological ability to cope.
This article intends to serve as a mental health awareness resource to support you and your family in becoming resilient and well.
What is Maternal Mental Health?
Maternal Health is the psychological state in which a mother is able to ‘realise her own abilities, cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to contribute towards her community’… at all times throughout her pregnancy journey.
While there is a conversation about post-natal depression, there are fewer conversations around pre-pregnancy mental wellbeing and during pregnancy mental health.
There’s a tendency to believe that being pregnant is natural and therefore all women are eager for this next chapter.
There is also a common narrative that expresses how pregnancy should make you feel beautiful, and happy and joyous.
Both narratives can be isolating and add to the emotional strain of pregnancy.
Therefore, Maternal Mental Health is a week that has been organised to normalise the fears, anxieties, concerns, and yes, the impact the journey through pregnancy can have on our mental health.
The theme for Maternal Mental Health awareness week 2021 is Journey to Recovery.
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/PerinatalMHPartnershipUK/
What is Paternal Mental Health?
A quick search on Mind.org.uk for ‘paternal mental health’ shows that the focus is still on maternal wellbeing.
In recent years, we have seen an undeniable amount of evidence that states that fathers (to-be) are just as succeptible to mental wellbeing affliction as their partner.
In 2015 a survey by the National Childbirth Trust (NC) found that 1 in 3 dads (38%) are worried about their own health and 3 in 4 dads (73%) are worried about the health of their partner.
Because the male partner is not the one who physically goes through the pregnancy journey, it does not mean he should be cut out of the narrative.
Incredible sources like Dads Matter UK and The Dad Pad have been making noise about paternal mental wellbeing and I reckon its a conversation that needs to be louder and wider spread.
Father’s Mental Health Awareness day takes place the day after Father’s day. This year, will be June 21st 2021.
7 Pillars of Mental Health
There are a variety of elements which contribute to strong mental health. Just as physical health is not simply cared for by solely exercising.
The 7 pillars of mental wellbeing are:
- physical fitness
How does Nutrition Affect Mental Health?
Nutrition plays a key role in our mental health.
A balanced diet with a strong mix of vegetables, healthy fats, complex carbohydrates and proteins will ensure a clear mind.
Mindset and your Mental Wellbeing
Building a strong mindset will ensure that you feel capable, even when the going gets tough.
A growth mindset, in particular, allows you to stay adaptable and learn how to overcome new obstacles.
- The Learning Pit: How to Leverage the Effects of Happiness on Learning
- Revealed: How to Build a Growth Mindset and Succeed More
Community and your Mental Health
Humans are people of community. When we don’t communicate with others, the chemistry in our brain changes. We become more irritable, angry and may experience more depression.
When surveyed in November 2020, the Bettering Youth community disclosed that loneliness (and comprehension) were amongst their top concerns for their children. This is why we launched our small group English and Maths clubs… The result? They are a huge hit!
Physical Fitness and your Mental Health
Fitness is an incredible way to deal with stress, boost confidence, and build self-belief.
It’s a powerful tool that affects our body’s chemistry and the thought patterns we hold on to.
It can act as a great space to build self esteem, discover personal self talk, develop great relationships with others, and provide a healthy outlet for emotions.
Less than a third of teens are participating in the suggested 30 minutes of daily activity per day. And with the decline of mental health amongst teens due to the Corona Virus, it’s important we provide places and tools for teens to release their emotions.
How does Learning Support your Mental Health?
A plethora of evidence supports that some of the best ways to prevent the development of brain diseases like dementia, is to keep the brain active. Treat your brain like your body (and your mind) and put it through a workout.
Playing strategy games, participating in group conversations that are stimulating, learning a new skill, language or instrument are all great ways to keep your mind agile.
What does Compassion have to do with Your Mental Wellbeing?
When we do for others, our brain is activated in the same way it would be if we were receiving the act ourselves.
That is to say, buying someone a coffee activates our brain in the same way as if we bought ourselves the coffee!
Giving really is a gift to both parties.
Mindfulness and the Brain
I’m sure by now you’ve heard us express our adoration for Mindfulness and the incredible powers it holds… but we’re going to share it again because it’s just that great!
Mindfulness can alter our brain’s structure by creating new pathways.
We can also experience improvement with metacognition and ability to maintain attention.¹⁸
Plus it allows us to stop reflecting on the past (depression), and worrying about the future (anxiety) and exist, fully in the present moment.
- 8 easy ways to incorporate mindfulness into your day
- What is Mindfulness
- How to teach Mindfulness with Inside Out
Support Resources for Mental Wellbeing
- Post-natal depression (PND)
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Postpartum psychosis (PP)
- Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
Mind (mental health charity) webpages:
- Partners’ perinatal mental health
- Perinatal depression
- Perinatal post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Postpartum psychosis (PP)
- Perinatal obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Perinatal anxiety
Hub of Hope website – mental health support network
Mark Williams’ TEDx talk: The importance of new fathers’ mental health
Bettering Youth Resources: