Caring for the mental well-being
Young activist from Ukraine shares her tips for staying in good mental health
About the author
Yana Panfilova is a HIV activist, founder and Chair of Board of Teenergizer. She has been living with HIV since birth. For more than eight years, Yana has been openly talking about her status and helping others to accept theirs. She set up an organization that has brought together teenagers from Eastern Europe and Central Asia. She and her team are creating a world in which every teenager can unlock their potential.
In today's world full of stress and disasters, mental well-being is definitely one of the must-haves.It is critical to monitor mental health just like physical health. It’s not “just about wearing a mask”, it’s about taking good care and working on it every day.
What is mental health? How do you see and feel it?
When we talk about mental well-being, we mean a condition in which a person does not feel psychological pressure, and feels at ease in his or her community and with himself or herself.
Alas, we cannot feel the psyche itself literally, but we can see its overall condition when we look at a person’s appearance or behaviour. The psychological condition is very closely related to the physiological condition. And any problems – for instance, issues with self-acceptance or acceptance of our bodies – will always be visible to others through how we look and how openly we communicate. It is also important to note that there are no standards of mental health – instead, there is only a framework within which a person is considered mentally healthy. Here we go back to the beginning of this paragraph to read the definition.
Why is taking care of your mental health so critical and how can you do it?
Based on the definition of mental health, the better we take care of it, the easier it is for us to live in this difficult world.
This does not mean that a person in good mental health cannot be sad or have no problems. Quite the opposite – it is how we cope with these problems without isolating ourselves from others and without sliding into depression that determines how strong our mental health is at the moment. In fact, stress in small doses is exactly what tempers us, strange as it may seem.
The better we take care of our mental health, the easier it is for us to live in this difficult world.
When we know how to go through all these difficulties with minimal harm to ourselves, this only helps us to:
- stay socially active,
- design for ourselves and around ourselves the life we strive for.
In order not to cause irreparable harm to your mental health, it is critical to:
- Not undervalue your feelings – you always have the right to negative emotions, and you cannot confine them inside yourself, because depression can develop in as little as two weeks,
- When feeling psychological distress – at work, at school, or in communication with others – determine exactly where it comes from and what makes us feel bad, and minimize these factors as much as possible,
- Share your experiences with someone who can listen and support, and, if necessary, help sort things out.
Sometimes it is enough to talk about painful things to people close to us, but this is not always the case, and not everyone has such an opportunity. This is why we at Teenergizer launched consultations at which every teenager can share his or her pain with a peer to receive understanding and support in return.
We can all be supermen and superwomen, but our strength lies in our weaknesses: it is critical not to “endure” psychological discomfort, but to find ways out of it – either on our own or with the support and assistance of others.