September 28, 2020

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

Rest

Talk

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

A picture containing food, fruit

Description automatically generated

Invest in gratitude every day

Find greatness in being at home

Appreciate everything

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

A close up of a logo

Description automatically generated

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

Photograph, Look

Draw, Paint, Watercolor

Why? Investing in playful heart energy and being present to boost your health and stay happy

Links: Artistic passion, Healing art

A bouquet of flowers in a vase

Description automatically generated

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

A picture containing fruit, food

Description automatically generated

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

A close up

Description automatically generated

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

A close up

Description automatically generated

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!

____________

Authors:

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