Mainstreaming Positive Mental Health

Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash

Maintaining positive mental health is a lifelong journey and is something that can often be neglected or overlooked. People tend not to give their mental health much consideration and take it for granted.

In many cases it is only when something goes wrong that it gets any real attention, when that happens it may often be because people have not taken an active role in its maintenance, they then can be at a loss as to what to do? And that can be a real issue in terms of the direct impact on that person’s life and then wider in terms of the impact on family/work/community etc. So what can be done? The good news is that positive mental health can be learnt and it can be taught. No matter who they are or what their background can be taught, they understand it and ultimately benefit from it.

However, barring a magical wand, things will not change overnight. The current situation in which we find ourselves is simply not geared up to allow the majority of people to either learn or be taught positive mental health. Of course, people can do both, there are a whole myriad of resources and techniques available if the effort is made or the realisation, of just how important positive mental health actually is, is come to.

And that, unfortunately, is a major issue here, with the effort involved and without that realisation, this simply will not get the traction it needs with the majority of people. For it to be effective it needs to become something that is day to day, something that is ingrained into people’s thinking and done automatically.

Possible? Well yes but you have guessed it, with a lot of effort. Positive mental health is something that needs to be taught to our children from the earliest point in their lives possible, at home, at the nursery and in school. Some places of learning are now are indeed teaching mindfulness and meditation to children, others actively encouraging children and teenagers to discuss and explore their mental health in specific classes. This is so great to hear and should be supported and promoted as much as possible.

However, until this is part of the curriculum and is a prerequisite for all educational institutions its impact will be limited. Then there are adults; adults can be far trickier to engage, whilst many will see the benefits and seek out support, the majority at least at the moment, will not. Promotion is key here, if any progress is going to be made and where individuals do have a part to play a far greater impact could be achieved if the government, business and community organisations became more involved.

More effort could and should be made to promote positive mental health through advertising, in the workplace, and through word of mouth. Once people become more aware of the benefits then with the hope they will make the effort to actively maintain their mental well-being. Once awareness has been raised, the same institutions mentioned above could play a critical role in supporting people’s access to the right services or resources.

These things don’t necessarily have to cost a fortune and any real costs will likely be offset by savings made in the long run, a bit like preventative medicine. This whole phenomenon has taken place over the last few years about physical health, the benefits to good physical health being obvious and are widely promoted, so why can’t it be the same for mental health?

It seems simple but like some lurking spectre, the ‘stigma’ that surrounds mental health plays a key role here. I am afraid that until this stigma has been overcome bringing positive mental health into the mainstream will remain an uphill struggle. 

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