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The Mental Health Continuum – Living Successfully With Mental Illness

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The last couple of years, many of us have struggled; or we know others that have.

Conversations have been deeper and we’re discussing topics many of us may have previously avoided or kept behind closed doors. People are talking about their mental health now more than ever. It’s everywhere, on the TV, in films, on the news, and even in sport. It’s progress, but…

Mental health is behind the times when it comes to our overall health – despite the fact that there has long been a huge focus on “health”, mental health is often not mentioned as part of that package. The truth is, we all have mental health, yet how many times have you heard someone use the following phrase?

“I suffer from mental health”

This is a phrase so often heard but not always correctly used.

What is Mental Health?

Mental health is not a diagnosis. Just like someone who has broken their leg wouldn’t say “I suffer from physical health.” This mistake of terminology highlights the lack of education and knowledge surrounding mental health and wellbeing. It’s just something that sits silently unless we begin to struggle with it.

At this point, we are catapulted into a world where we realise that our brains – the organ that controls our emotional responses, our thoughts, our feelings, and the way we process situations, our reactions to it, and the memories we then store – is an important part of our overall health – our mental health.

Mental health is fluid.

It is not just the absence of illness. It can be good, it can be not so good, and it can be terrible. It is not just black and white. It is the grayscale, it’s the light and shadow, it’s the extremes and the in between.

The Mental Health Continuum is a wonderful way of illustrating the fluidity of mental health and wellness.

The Mental Health Continuum

As you can see, there are no absolutes. There are those with diagnoses of mental illness(es) who have a good mental wellbeing and there are those without a diagnosis who have poor mental wellbeing. Mental health is more than just good or bad. The nuances may be subtle and often difficult to understand but I’m a firm believer in sharing lived experience to empower others and to educate those who have no experience or knowledge of mental illness.

We live in a world where one in four people will struggle with their mental health, 25% of the population currently has a diagnosed mental illness – this is why there needs to be more conversation around mental health; every day.

If you are struggling, reach out. Talk. In the same way you would discuss your physical health being under par, you should discuss your mental health in the same way. There are many, many organisations our there to help, and multiple tools for free here. Don’t suffer in silence.

We are (or should be) way past the days where living and working effectively with mental illnesses is frowned upon. It must be viewed in the same way as living and working with physical illnesses is also perfectly fine. Remember The Mental Health Continuum if in doubt. 

And finally…

PoetsIN have a range of resources available for free. They’re easy to download and will help with all things mental wellbeing. It is as important to invest time in our mental health as well as our physical health. Visit: poetsin.com/resources to get your copies.

Author: Sammie, The Creative Mental Health Charity

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