Photo by: Emily Underworld

Mental health is such a pivotal part of healthy living, however, a component that many of us oftentimes neglect and take for granted. When left unchecked, it can exacerbate and trickly into all aspects of our lives, with unfavourable effects. It is a topic that still holds some stigma, largely due to the lack of understanding around it. Yes, this is changing, but it will take more time in some communities. I’m thinking in our own Black communities where speaking openly about mental health is not always easy, as a result, many suffer in silence for fear of being ridiculed or found weak.

Caring for our mental health is a necessity for our overall well-being, as it impacts every aspect of our lives – from our relationships, self-esteem and to our overall health. That is why we must make it a priority, all the time.  As we celebrate Black History Month, let us shine a light on the importance of mental health and take concerted effort to make it an essential part of our self-care.

It starts with removing the misconceptions and allowing ourselves to be at ease to speak openly about it. Speaking openly about it will require some vulnerability, we may even come off as being less stoic as everyone expects us to always be. Talking about it is an essential part of prevention and maintenance of good mental health. Yet, to open up about it, we must first understand it. This will enable us to remove the stigma associated with mental health in our Black communities. We must, to help ourselves and others (e.g., family or friends) – to talk and listen without judgement and with empathy.

What is mental health? Experts from the Government of British Columbia give us a sense of what it means. They remind us that while physical health is the state of your body, mental health is the state of your mind, feelings and emotions. One’s physical health can have an impact on mental health (and I would add vice-versa). So can our relationships, as well as work, school and community environments. When it comes to mental health, it is something that is always there and can be positive or negative at any given time. While mental illness affects one’s ability to function over a long period, and “is not the same as feeling sad, unhappy, or stressed about a difficult situation.” When we are mentally healthy, it helps us to better enjoy life and cope with the challenges that may arise.

An essential part of maintaining mental health is self-care.  It includes regular exercise, eating healthy and feeling good in your skin. Taking the time to ‘pamper’ yourself can do wonders for boosting your mood, as well as socializing with family and friends. Also, having some quiet time in prayer/meditation can have a peaceful and grounding effect. Do things that you enjoy.

Build a core group of trusted family and friends with whom you can talk to and open up. Most of us find it hard to ‘tell people our business’ even to mental health experts, many of whom we feel do not understand our culture and way of thinking. As such, some do not use these services. But you can start by speaking with your family doctor, who may also be able to make a referral to someone you will feel comfortable with. Further, these services can exist in the organization where you are working – your human resources expert would likely know about them and must keep your inquiries confidential. Reach out, ask questions. Once you have the information, you can share it with others. Information, education, and awareness are empowering.

Let’s focus on the ‘health’ in mental health. Healthy mind, healthy body – they work in unity. Let’s work together to dispel the myths about mental health.

La Tropiqua – Healthy Living. For Life
www.latropiqua.ca
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Article by: Marlene Roache, Healthy Eating Coach, Owner and Founder of
La Tropiqua – Healthy Living. For Life Ltd.

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