World Health Organization (WHO) has many international days every year with different themes. One of the themes is mental health and the day takes place today on the 10th of October. The overall objective of the day is raising awareness about mental health. Every year the day has a different focus and this year the focus is on suicide.
In ESN we also try to raise awareness about mental health as it is part of our causes Health and Well-being and Social Inclusion. In this blog post we will write about different mental health issues and open up what they are about. We’ll also try to give some useful information both to the ones who are not feeling well and to the people seeing their friends feeling unwell.
Different forms of mental illnesses
According to the WHO, mental health can be defined as a state of well-being in which people realize their own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life and can work productively or contribute to their community in other ways. There are many different types of mental health issues; like depression, anxiety, bi-polar disorder, schizophrenia and psychosis.
If you or some of your friends are struggling with mental health, there are some self care-tips that you can try out yourself to improve the situation:
- Social support - talk to someone you trust
- Try to make sure that you get enough and proper sleep
- Physical exercise and nature has both been proven to reduce stress and improve your mental well-being
- Take time for things that you usually enjoy and get energy and motivation from
- Limit your consumption of alcohol
- Try to practice some meditation or relaxation (there are for instance good apps that you can use, check our previous blog post!)
- Nutrition also plays an important role - try to introduce healthy food habits!
"Depression as a mental disorder involves long-term lowering of mood, as well as other symptoms involving thoughts, feelings, behaviour and the entire body." https://mieli.fi/en/home/mental-health/mental-disorders/depression
Depression is usually caused by combination of different factors such as biological, psychological and social. Depression usually doesn't have one single cause, but it can be a result of anything from hypothyroidism to difficult childhood to long time stress to winter time darkness.
Symptoms of depression:
- Depressive mood
- Loss of self confidence
- Unreasonable feelings of guilt and harsh self criticism
- Sleeping problems
- Inability to concentrate or to make decisions
Nobody's depression is the same. Just like there are different causes of depression, there are also different treatments for different people and different needs.
- Psychotherapy and medication
- Peer support groups
- Other ways to support the treatment process is to exercise and to avoid alcohol, setting boundaries and learning to say no.
Read here about going on exchange when suffering from depression: https://esn.org/blog/i-have-depression-yet-i-did-erasmus
Burnout is a huge and common problem in today’s society, and unfortunately ESN is no exception in this case.
Burnout is something that evolves overtime after you have been unders stress, you haven’t been able to sleep properly and you have started to feel that you are incapable to do the things that you are supposed to. Burnout is not something that strikes from the sky but something that evolves from smaller things.The reason for burnout to evolve can be that either you or people around you have put too high expectations for you.
The best way to avoid burnout is to solve the problems in the early stage
- If the problem is between people or groups try to find a supervisor or a mediator who can help you solving the conflict
- Make sure that you take care of your own recovery process - sleep, relax, have fun
What to do if burnout is not avoidable anymore
- The first stage is to accept it
- Start taking care of your recovery process
- For example exercise helps with recovery
- Get enough sleep
- Confront the thing that made it happen
If mental health issues are not taken care of and prevented during the early stages they can in worst case lead to suicide.
According to international statistics one person dies by suicide every 40 seconds. The WHO has based their campaign of this year around this information. WHO introduces some ideas in their flyer and we have picked some of them here. If you want to read the whole flyer and all the ideas here’s a link to it.
- “If you are struggling, take 40 seconds to kickstart a conversation with someone you trust about how you are feeling.” (WHO 2019)
- “If you know someone who has lost a loved one to suicide, take 40 seconds to start a conversation and ask them how they are doing.” (WHO 2019)
If the struggles are already too serious or you don’t think that self care will help, you should always seek professional help.
Susanna Ailanto, Daniela Mård and Tiia Niskanen