Time to Invest in Mental Health Part 2: your own mental health
Written by GMH@Harvard Ambassador Board Members: Bill Kriebel, Sarah Coleman, Anna Bartuska, and Amruta Houde
All artwork by Bill Kriebel
October, World Mental Health Month, begins at the end of this week! Saturday October 10th is World Mental Health Day and the theme this year is Move For Mental Health: Let’s Invest. The World Health Organization, for the first time ever will be hosting a global online advocacy and fundraising event on Mental Health.
We have aligned our three-part series to coincide with this important theme.In our first article of the series we discussed with Elisha London, Founder and CEO of United for Global Mental Health, about what it means to invest in mental health and how we can take action to improve global mental health. In this article, we share ways that you can invest in your own mental health, especially through mindfulness and expressive arts. Our third article of the series will be released after World Mental Health Day and explore financial investment in global mental health.
It’s time to invest in your own mental health
Let’s get real. COVID 19 is stressful and impacts how we feel, what we say to ourselves, and what we do. Our lead author went through a lot of stress leading 13 teams in nine countries and turned to mindfulness and expressive arts to stay mentally healthy. Now he shares these experiences as a Certified Peer Specialist and through this article seeks to share these strategies with others. In this article, we offer ways and resources to help you stay emotionally and mentally healthy during these challenging times. The following list of strategies is not mean to be comprehensive, but instead help you begin to invest in your own mental health. You may wish to start with these articles to set the stage.
Links: Harvard COVID Mental Health, PIH tips, Invest in yourself
Invest in relaxing
Pretend like we are meeting in a big living room with a nice warm fireplace
Be comfortable and mindful
Meditate: Rest with your body and breath
Why? You are investing in reducing stress, staying calm, and improving your immune system
Links: relax, meditate, yoga, mobile apps, ADAA apps, stress apps, anxiety apps, app efficacy
Invest in gratitude every day
Find greatness in being at home
Living is a miracle!
Savor your cuisine, it nurtures you
Why? You are investing in staying positive no matter what
Links: Giving thanks, gratitude science, gratitude journals, gratitude praise
Invest in being deeply aware of what is
If you can go outside, let nature speak to you
If you are spiritual, take time to cultivate spirituality
Now is the only time you actually live
Why? Investing in connecting with your inner and outer world will raise awareness of how you really are.
Links: Self awareness matters, self awareness benefits
Invest in your body and your health
Walk, Exercise, Yoga, Run, Hike, Swim, Breath
Eat well, regularly and diversely
Consistently maintain your hygiene
Why? Investing in your body is essential as science shows exercise can reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression
Link: Invest in your health
Invest in creating and expressing yourself
Dance, Sing, Play music
Draw, Paint, Watercolor
Why? Investing in playful heart energy and being present to boost your health and stay happy
Links: Artistic passion, Healing art
Invest in challenging and strengthening your mind
Take classes, read, play games, etc
The importance is to keep your mind strong
Why? Investing in a strong mind keeps you young, active and healthy
Links: Stay young, brain exercises
Invest in building community!
This may be tricky with COVID. Definitions of community can change to fit the times.
Call family and friends, Zoom
Make sure your friends and family have the social support they need, especially if they are in quarantine or part of a vulnerable population
Check in on people you care about who are on the front lines such as clinicians, teachers, public health workers, etc
Join the global movement of COVID-19 response such as at Partners In Health and share success stories to lift each other up
Why? Investing in community keeps you connected with others which can become essential
Links: Socializing benefits, mental health communities, group mental health, PIH Covid response
Invest in your wellness recovery action plan
Who are the people that you will call in a mental health emergency?
Who will take you to the hospital?
Which doctors, medications, and allergies do the emergency room staff need to know
Which medical information do you need to have on hand?
Why? Investing in emergency preparation while you are mentally strong, is essential if you may need help
Link: WRAP plan
Invest in keeping your bills paid and finances well managed
Simplify and keep a consistent process
Save money now in case you need money for healthcare emergencies or lost work
Why? Investing in your finances now will greatly reduce mental health concerns when sick
The following provides a good workbook for finances and the above topics
Link: 8 Dimensions of Wellness
What if all of this is too much? Invest in getting help!
You may have a treatable mental health concern
Speak with a therapist or doctor
You could look up your concerns on the web, but this has dangers if you have a true concern
Why? Investing in one-on-one communication with a professional can isolate a specific concern that needs your attention
Links: Therapists, Crisis lines
What if you know you have an illness? Invest in making connections!
Ok, this is not for everyone and is harder with Covid
Still, make the effort
Join a recovery community
Why? Investing in connecting with other people can be essential to healing, or at least beneficial
Links: Metro Boston RLC, McLean Hospital Waverly Place
What if your illness is much more serious? Invest more!
If you have a serious condition and have tried many alternatives, you may need more
There are many residential programs throughout the US
Why? Investing in a residential program can help you treat your health holistically
Link: Residential treatment programs
Invest in learning about mental health concerns
Why? Investing in learning about mental health can help you and others take the best actions
Links: NIH, NAMI, SAMHSA, CDC, WHO, MIND UK
Healthy and ready to help others?
Invest in the greater good of the world
We are in a time of multiple crises- public health, racial, economic, police brutality: all affecting our mental health and compounded by potential COVID-19 mental health related challenges
Why? This improves everyone’s mental health collectively, while helping ourselves
Links: Volunteering, Investment needed, racial tensions, COVID concerns
Don’t forget to invest in yourself and in your communities on World Mental Health Day, Saturday October 10!
Are you ready to #MoveForMentalHealth? Visit United for Global Mental Health and join the virtual #WMHD activities! Stay tuned for our third and final article Investing in Mental Health later this month!
Anna D. Bartuska, Program Coordinator, Community Psychiatry PRIDE, Massachusetts General Hospital
Sarah Coleman, Cross-Site Mental Health Officer, Partners In Health
Amruta Houde, Mental Health Program Associate, Partners in Health
William Kriebel, Master’s of Liberal Arts Student at the Harvard Extension School, studying Management. Certified Peer Specialist, Boston Medical Center