World Mental Health Day is celebrated annually on 10 October as an effort to raise awareness of the importance of mental health and address what can be done for people to take better care of it. It provides an opportunity for stakeholders working on mental health issues to talk about their work and ways forward, and on this occasion, Sarah, a Youth Forum Alumni of 2022, shares her views on mental health and well-being.
• Dear Sarah, please introduce yourself!
Hi! My name is Sarah, I am 21 years old, and I come from Serbia. I am part of an organization that deals with policies, research, education and analysis of issues related to drug problems called Re Generation. I was always interested in social issues, people in general, and the way we act and think. That is probably the reason why I chose to be a psychology student.
• What does mental health mean to you?
Mental health means the world to me. Taking care of your mental health results in a more fulfilling life and a better relationship with yourself and others. I take care of my mental health by finding things that fulfill me, spending time with and trying to be surrounded by people who wish me well and are kind to me, but the most important thing is that I work on my introspectiveness every day, which means I am reflecting on my virtues and flaws and always trying to improve and be the best version of myself. Poor mental health can cause stress and thus affect overall physical health, so it is important to take care of it.
• What do you do in your spare time to care for your mental health and well-being?
In my opinion, one of the most important things when it comes to mental health is rest. First of all, I try to get enough sleep, and I use my spare time for things that relax me and reduce stress. But the thing that contributed to my mental health the most was knowing my limits and boundaries. It means I try to listen to myself and my body and notice when it's time to take a break, relax and rest in order to reduce stress and be more productive afterwards. It also means that I navigate what works for me and what doesn't and communicate that clearly to other people without feeling guilty.
• Young people have had to limit their leisure activities due to the pandemic and subsequent social distancing, which have taken a toll on mental health. How can youth get back to or start new routines that will lead them to better mental health?
A new term appeared on the Internet that caught my attention - romanticizing life. The concept of "romanticizing your life" is a trend about celebrating yourself and making even the most ordinary day feel extraordinary. Falling in love with your life means learning what you love, what you desire, and what you need and putting all those things into action. It means focusing on your own goals and achieving them. Romanticizing your life allows you to embrace changes, learn new things and helps you grow into yourself. Since you used to be stuck at home with nowhere to go and your routines being redundant, the days were easily blended together and pretty boring. Instead of trying to control every aspect of your life, you should change it up a little. Maybe give your life the chance to surprise you from time to time. Saying yes to something you usually say no to. Sometimes the things you’re most unsure of end up being the best things for us. You’ll just never know unless you give it a shot. So creating a proper routine and finding things in our daily life that fulfill and motivate you can really contribute to your well-being.
• How can young people and families help each other through hardships?
I think that the first step in solving any problem is to be open and honest. In that way, you can open the space for the other side to understand you and thus, you can feel accepted. It is known that the topic of mental health is still accompanied by stigma, but it is extremely important to talk about it and approach it with understanding, empathy and without judgment. You should talk about all difficult moments with loved ones, but also seek professional help if necessary, without feeling bad about it!
We would like to thank Sarah for sharing her perspectives and expressing affection towards nurturing mental health and celebrating life. We hope readers embrace Sarah’s messages and make mental health and well-being your priorities!
#WorldMentalHealthDay, #Make mental health & well-being for all a global priority