Mental Health Chat

by Dr Makini McGuire-Brown

January 28th is Bell’s Let’s Talk Day here in Canada. A day dedicated to conversations surrounding mental health. But no matter where you are in the world it’s always a good time to talk about mental health. So #BellLetsTalk !

As great as all the social movements that promote mental health are because they reduce stigma and promote healthy discussion, there is this risk of a fad being created without true knowledge or understanding. So as usual, I’m here to provide simplified medical knowledge on mental health and mental illnesses.

I think one of the most important things to understand is that the diagnosis of a mental illness or disorder should be made by a trained professional such as a psychiatrist or clinical psychologist. To be clear, being sad for a day, a week or even a month does not necessarily in itself constitute clinical depression. What constitutes a mental disorder is constantly under review and debated and it is very important to leave the diagnosing to the professionals.

Mental disorders come in various forms from mood disorders to psychotic illnesses. Mood disorders are often the ones that get abused with self-diagnoses. A more productive habit however is not to focus on self-diagnosing a mental illness but instead focus on your mental health. Like illnesses in the rest of your body, a physician or medical professional should diagnose them. But there are things you can do to help prevent illnesses, decrease your chances of getting them or make them better if you do have them. This is the focus of mental health.

Mental disorders are caused through a multitude of factors, both biological and psychological with consideration to social circumstances. The good thing about this is that when focusing on mental health you can again focus on both of these factors allowing for multiple ways for you to keep yourself feeling good! In addition to biological and psychological, you may also want to focus on spiritual aspects as well as for some people this is an essential part of mental health.

Striving for mental health can be championed and directed all on your own, through friends or social groups, through amateurs or through professionals. Activities that promote mental health vary widely but the objectives are the same: positivity, peace, time for yourself, feeling good, acknowledging your stressors and figuring out how to deal  with them, embracing yourself good, bad and in between, embracing your emotions and becoming the best you that you can be.

What activities can you do to encourage this? Well, way more than I can list. Some of my favourites however are:

  1. Exercise- Because as relunctant as you are to do it, when you crush it, it feels amazing! Additionally, exercise does release endorphins, the happy hormone.
  2. Playing with my children- Because no matter how old I get I’m still a child at heart! I’m pretty sure I enjoy the activities even more than they do. Children are the perfect examples of happiness, contentment and peace within.
  3. Baking and Eating- Food and desserts rock and don’t let anyone ever tell you differently!
  4. The Beach- Because there’s nothing else like it although watching and listening to the rain has to suffice at times
  5. Reading- Harry Potter forever!

If you hate all of those that’s ok! The point is to do whatever gives your mind a break and allows it to release the feel good hormones like endorphins, serotonin and dopamine. Sleep or watch movies, follow a blog if you feel encouraged by others’ motivational stories or join a social community. Here are a few of M Parley’s picks!

  1. MrsTeeJayPee– Teacher Thoughts, TidBits &Tips
  2. The Suburban Girl JA–  A personal blog sharing life lessons from everyday experiences
  3. FunTimes Magazine

Don’t forget Bell Let’s Talk Day on January 28th. More information on understanding mental disorders to come! #BellLetsTalk !

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Published by Dr. Makini McGuire-Brown

God-Lover, Mother, Wife, Physician, MBA, Language-Lover, Arts-Lover, Happy Caribbean Girl!

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