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Understanding Mental Health
Mental Health is complicated. There are so many ways to talk about it and it can get confusing. To better understand, Mental Health Literacy developed a tool known as “the pyramid” that consists of 4 layers. The base of the pyramid is the largest, which is related to the number of individuals in this state. Therefore, as the pyramid gets smaller so does the amount of people who may experience this state. Let’s take a closer look at what the 4 levels of the pyramid are:
- No Distress, Problem or Disorder:
This is the bottom level and the largest of the pyramid. This is when everything is okay and you are not experiencing any mental distress, problems of disorders.
- Mental Distress:
The next layer up is mental distress. Distress releases a signal from our brain indicating the need to adapt to our environment and that there is a problem to solve. Triggers of distress are unavoidable, but the process is necessary for life-skills promoting and building resilience. An example is having an argument with your boss. Once you figure out a solution the mental distress goes away.
- Mental Health Problem:
The layer second from the top is mental health problems which is an indicator that we are having difficulties and may need external help such as, counselling or community support. This can arise from a stressor of great amount, such as the death of a loved one.
- Mental Disorder/Illness:
Located at the top of the pyramid is mental illness. This occurs when there is disruption in usual brain functioning. This disruption is the result of our genes and our environment from the time of conception and throughout the lifespan. Examples of this can be the diagnosis of ADHD, Clinical Depression, and Anxiety.
Now that we have a better understanding of these terms, here are everyday things you can do for your mental health, also known as the Big 5 to Thrive!
- Exercise: This could be a walk in the community or a session at the gym
- Sleep: The optimal amount needed varies for everyone. Put away your phone and snuggle up for a good night’s sleep.
- Supportive Relationships: Develop and maintain positive relationships with family, friends, and community. Surround yourself by those who lift you up.
- Nutrition: Incorporate healthy foods that are easy to make and taste great!
- Helping Others: Get involved in your community coalitions or volunteer with local charities.
It has been shown that improving even one of these areas translates to improvement in the other areas. Consider steps that are realistic to you to better your mental health!