Mental health can be a confusing concept to many of us. So much talk, so little understanding. There are different ways of looking at it, but according to the World Health Organisation, mental health is:
A state of well-being in which every individual realises his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.
So the goal with mental health is to be mentally healthy! Duh!! But so often the focus of a person with anxiety like me can be rooted in the issues rather than solutions. Of conditions, rather than the decisions that can lift us out of a funk. And that leads to a very vicious cycle.
Seeing the way out was a big challenge for me when I first started seeking help for anxiety: I would constantly focus on all the negative things that were bothering me. Ok I was becoming aware of what was triggering me, but that only took me so far. I realised I needed to start focusing on what I could do about improving my mental health, rather obsess over what’s holding me back. I needed to change my story from “I can’t cope with stress” to: “I have the tools to cope with any stress that pops up in life”. After all, worrying doesn’t solve tomorrow’s problems, it just spoils today’s peace!
What’s the fuss?
But why focus on mental health? Well the WHO says it all. Being mentally well, is an enabler for us to live a great life full of meaning, contribution and connection. Being mentally unwell on the other hand holds us back from living to our true potential.
Sadly, too many men in my life struggle with mental health challenges. But even sadder is that we men don’t really like talking about it!! However the stats are sobering: 3 million Australians are currently experiencing anxiety or depression. And tragically 8 people take their own lives every day. That’s 8 too many if you ask me.
Be the change
How can we change this? Organisations like Beyondblue can help. Their mission is to help people with anxiety, depression and suicide ideation work through their problems so that they too can have a fulfilling life (and be full of life). They also work to reduce the stigma around these topics. So that people can break down the walls of silence and join the conversation about positive mental health. I stand with them on this, and they have inspired me to share my story, so that I may spread the message to help even one person turn their life around when they thought they had no way out.
How Can You help?
To support their work, I’ve created a campaign to raise money for this wonderful organisation. In return I will be doing an epic stair climb on my 30th birthday! My calves will be sore from it, but this physical discomfort is trivial compared to the mental suffering that too many people needlessly endure.
Remember, you have the power to change your story!
Matt and Nat