Why I care about my mental health, and why you should too.

You know sometimes when you’re having a bad day, and that seems to affect everything you do? Everything you have to do is for some reason a lot harder to get right than it is normally and without you meaning to, things go wrong?

I remember when I was younger, this is how someone once explained mental health to me.
Of course it’s a lot more complicated and nuanced than this, but I always thought it effectively explained the overarching power and importance mental health has over one’s general wellbeing – it affects everything we do. Without it, we struggle.

A more recent way I grasped the extent of this, was when I was sitting in my Health Psychology class at University and we discussed what health was.
There has always been a very clear distinction between body and mind. Physical health and mental health are often considered distinct. We can see this in the way we treat illness – there is often a big disconnect between physical and mental health care. And when talking about health and its definition, people often consider this the mere state of physical wellbeing and absence of physical disease or illness.

But they are far from separate! They are highly interconnected, one influencing the other and vice versa. Together they both comprise the composite term of health. The WHO recognizes this in their famous notion of “no health without mental health”.
I think this best illustrates just how important mental health is – because it’s integral to your overall wellbeing! Your mental health is just as important as your physical health. Sometimes I even find it to be more important. Or rather – I always try to prioritize my mental health over other things, by doing (or sometimes not doing) things that maintain my mental wellbeing.

In more tangible terms – mental health helps improve your quality of life.
It strengthens and supports your ability to:
• Handle the natural ups and downs of life
• Have healthy relationships
• Perform to the best of your abilities (professionally or otherwise).
• Reduces physical ailments and medical costs.

Essentially, being mentally strong and well allows you to function at your best, and it benefits you and those around you. Therefore it is so important that you take care of yourself mentally as much as you do physically. Checking in with yourself. Making time to do things for yourself, that make you happy and give you energy – no matter how big or small they might be. And if things aren’t going well or you are struggling, reaching out and seeking help as best you can.

Johanna Kruger

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