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Mental health is complex. There is no quick fix to mental health problems and each individuals journey is completely unique. There is no one specific way that doctors treat mental health. As we know, it is a combination of a multitude of elements to one’s mental health. However, in this column, I will explore some of the aspects of positive mental health. As mentioned, there is no such thing as a go to guide for mental health as everyone experiences it differently. Each practice below is to act as a guide or introduction to those people who may be more curious around what works with regards positive mental health or simply just to educate yourself on positive mental health practices.

1.Talk Therapy

Getting things out in the open is helpful. As the old saying goes – a problem shared is a problem halved and I do believe this is true. Even hearing our own voice in a therapy room is helpful and it gives us power to own our own story to this point. The events that have led us here, so far on our journey. The good and the bad.

Psychotherapy and Counselling sometimes get overlooked but I think people are really beginning to appreciate the value of therapy even more so in recent times. There are many benefits to counselling but I would say one of the main benefits is giving the space to what has happened in your life and honouring that which you may not feel comfortable in talking about elsewhere.

Of course, having a qualified professional in the area holding you in that space is paramount to therapy. Sometimes, you may need to go to a few different therapists before finding the right one as trust, amongst other elements, must exist in the therapeutic relationship for it to be of benefit.

So, if you have been to therapy but it didn’t work out accordingly, I would say to always be open to giving it a second or even a third chance. The power of therapy must be acknowledged and the healing that subsequently takes place has the potential to be life changing.

2.Medication

Medication for mental health can be a controversial or taboo theme in some people’s minds however I will shed a bit of light on the use of medication in mental health. I would say that medication, in totality, has its place. It may be a shoulder to lean on in tumultuous times and I would say that there should not be a stigma that exists with taking medication for your mental health. If you had an ache or pain in your body or had a chest infection, you would take a pain killer or an antibiotic. The same mentality should exist with mental health medication. If you need something to tie you over or even a longer term medication than I would advocate the use of it – as long as it is not prohibiting you from living your life.

Many people find that they need to monitor and tweak medications to get the right drug and the correct dose of medication which can be stressful. However, once the right combination of medication is prescribed and at the correct dose, than it should actually enable you to live a more healthy and fulfilling life – like all medications.

However, I must reiterate, with mental health, it is completely unique to each individual and everyone reacts differently to different medications so it is up to the patient to work collaboratively with their doctor to find the right combination of medication.

3.CBT and Mindfulness

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is used in conjunction with the practice of mindfulness to bring you into the present moment and to notice what is happening in the present. CBT is no walk in the park. If you are used to living a fast-paced life without slowing down, you will find CBT difficult but extremely powerful and healing. CBT exercises include mindful eating. This is where you slow down when eating and really taste the food fully and feel all of the senses going including smell. It brings you back to your senses which In turn brings you to the present moment. This may bring up difficult feelings for the individual practicing CBT at first however the long term pay off is rewarding. It allows you to slow your thoughts down and gain a sense of control of the internal conversation and then your environment.

4.Exercise

Whether it is 5 minutes or 50 minutes, exercise has been scientifically proven to increase an overall better state of well-being, including mental health. Besides the chemical reactions in the brain and the natural endorphins it produces, getting out into the fresh air is simply good for clearing the head. Also, the sense of health and vitality can boost self-esteem which is positive for your mental health and leading into self-acceptance – making you more confident in yourself and your body. Walking in nature is also a powerful healer. Being in touch with something larger than ourselves, be it the lakes, mountains, trees or the sea. Something bigger than us gets us out of our own inner narrative and provide headspace and a clearing of sorts which is great for mental health.

I hope the above has shed some light on the current practices around mental health. Please do let me know if you would like a more specific topic discussed