9 things to know about mental illness

Mental Illness

1. A mental illness is when your ability to function properly is affected by negative changes in your mood, thoughts, emotions and behaviour.

2. Most people with mental illness are not violent, only about 3 – 5% of violent acts can be attributed to people with serious mental illness.

3. Although most people assume that mental health problems are irreversible, with proper treatment, and support, mental health patients can recover completely.

4. Prevention is better than cure. Focus on a holistic state of wellbeing, pay attention to warning signs, consciously lower your stress levels and go for medical check-ups to make sure you identify the problem before it even starts. Many people assume that mental health problems are a result of personality problems or character flaws, but this is not the case. A history of abuse in any form, a family history of health problems and a brain injury are usually factors.

5. Coping with a mental illness can be hard but there are things that can help. Join a support group, speak to a close friend about your feelings, keep a journal and try to have an active social life.

6. Take comfort in this quote: Instead of saying, “I’m damaged, I’m broken, say I’m healing, I’m rediscovering myself, and I’m starting over.”

7. If you have a loved one with a mental illness, the best thing that you can do to show support is to educate yourself about the illness. This will ensure that you can be compassionate about what they are going through and they will be more likely to accept your support when they see your efforts.

8. Mental illness often begins in childhood, so it is important to pay attention to your children for signs that they might have a mental disorder. If treated early, children often make a faster recovery than adults.

9. Practise mindfulness. Make yourself more aware of the here and now by practising acceptance of the present moment without judging it. As obsessive, worrying thoughts come in, acknowledge them. Take note of where your mind drifted and how it made you feel. Then, release them. This will quiet your mind and help you stay grounded in the present moment. You can think a thousand stressful thoughts a day, but you can also choose to let those thoughts come and go. Think, don’t hoard.

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