What is mental health

WHAT IS MENTAL HEALTH?

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Mental health is more than the absence of psychiatric conditions and the World Health Organisation WHO says there is no health without mental health. Mental health includes your emotional, psychological, and social well-being, affecting how you think, feel, and act. It affects and influences your daily life and ability to balance the aspects of your life.

Mental health is a daily part of our lives

At some point in life, there will be times when the mind either gets overwhelmed or simply fails to cope or make sense of that reality has to offer. Reality will sometimes overwhelm the mind with events of daily living, being bombarded from diverse perspectives and at heightened intensities resulting in impaired judgment with a magnitude that temporarily cripples our ability to reason.

This kaleidoscope of overwhelming thoughts can come from the various aspects of everyday life such as marriage, perils of managing money whether it is too little or too much and we fail to account for it, work deadlines, being a father, a mother, a husband or a wife. Sometimes achieving one’s own desires and ambitions can be overwhelming for us in that we give ourselves deadlines to accomplish them and like adding salt to a wound when we compare other people’s achievements with our own and try to attain what they’ve achieved on our own timelines.

What are the effects of neglecting your mental health?

Unresolved stress that might arise from the everyday pressures of life might have adverse effects on your mental health. The fear of an uncertain and frankly uncertified future that we assume is likely to occur, compounded with stress and all its side effects that follow and failure to manage the situation properly can lead to what I can call a buildup of mental pressure. Because we rarely notice these issues piling up which quite frankly doesn’t happen overnight… rather it is cumulative.

This adversely affects our mental health as well as our physical state and spiritual wellbeing with the extent of effects varying from one individual to another. Some of these may include depression, addiction, low self-esteem, fits of rage, anxiety disorders, the deep and perpetual habit of self-pity and a feeling of not being wanted or needed by those we hold dear or revere. We fear that we may not be able to do what is needed and more than often exaggerate the consequences of failure or failure itself.

Physically, some will waste away due to loss of appetite and bad feeding habits while others will gain weight excessively and rapidly due to stress-eating. Some will develop stiff muscles and pain in the neck, shoulders and upper back. Other symptoms of stress include poor physical performance due to low energy levels (this may also cause erectile dysfunction in men or a loss of sexual appetite in women), persistent stomach upsets, insomnia, chest pains, high blood pressure and heart palpitations.

Mental balance is the key

What is mental health

Now, stress is not all bad. Don’t get me wrong here. While large doses will definitely cause harmful effects, the right amount of stress has been known to drive people to do and actually achieve more than they usually would when they’re calm. And to be honest I know a few people who passed their examinations because they studied and wrote the exams while they were stressed. However, in order for this to happen, a delicate mental balance that exists has to be maintained.

I’ve always believed that the mind is kept in a state of equilibrium by its mental faculties, self-regulating and working to maintain that state as we navigate the perilous waters of life. The mystery that is life itself, not knowing what tomorrow will bring is one of the things that I believe maintain that mental equilibrium. And drives us to be hopeful for a spontaneous and brighter tomorrow. Let’s not get spiritual here, that’s a subject for another day. At this point, it is important to note that Stress affects us differently i.e. men and women even though there are similarities in the way it affects our mental health regardless of sex. For this article, I’ve decided to tackle how it affects men as brief as possible.

Men and mental health

Men are not made of stone! It might come as a shock to some women but this is true. Men have feelings, they have emotions and they also experience all the things that come with having these emotions. Like sadness, unhappiness, loneliness and mental breakdowns and while some men might not actually want to admit it they do occasionally cry or throw a bi*%” fit if you will. Men are usually associated with the macho characters we see in movies or read about in popular literature who are immaculately and naturally balanced mentally.

What is mental health

Societies and cultures also pass down this idea from generation to generation as they evolve. That men don’t get all sensitive, weepy and cry about stuff or even get in tune with our emotions. This notion is of course absolutely wrong. And guys if you’re reading this and think that’s not true, that’s not macho. Well, I’m sorry but the strongest and most macho man that EVER walked this planet, one whom I believe was and still is the true embodiment of manhood; was in touch with his feelings and displayed affection and emotions from time to time. And He even cried. I’m not talking about Thanos boys I’m talking about Him, yes Jesus Christ.

An unusual legacy

This social construct of what a man is supposed to be like has made a considerable number of people stigmatize the act of expressing how you feel if you’re a man. As a result, men end up bottling up their feelings and try to find a way to deal with them. This mental image of a man is so deeply rooted in most cultures that it starts from the time a male child is able to walk, construct a few words that make communicative sense and hold his wee until he’s in the right place to go peepee. We inculcate gender roles that embrace this image of a man that society says describes as THE man to be. We tell them that pink is for girls and blue is for boys, the kitchen is for women and men don’t carry babies on their backs or front.

I remember an incident a few years back when I was watching a couple of children playing and running around in the yard. And then the boy fell and started to cry. A girl went to comfort the boy but while she was comforting him she said something that made me wonder and it kind of left me in awe especially that she would say such a thing at that age. She said, “stop crying, be a man”. Those kids were 4 and 6 years old. Dealing with this social construct has to start at an early age and it’ll take time and effort from everyone. I’m not saying teach little boys to start wearing dresses, just let children be children with the necessary guidance of course as we raise them. I’ll tackle this subject on kids in another article.

Hope you have found this article enlightening, stick around for an awesome article on how to maintain good mental health.

Are you wondering how you can help your man reach an optimum level of good mental health? How to make your man happy is the article that you want to read. Click here to see it.

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Manasseh Ndhlovu

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