I believe everyone should see a Psychologist. Most of us are thought how to practice physical health and we benefit greatly from that. But mental health is tricky because we have never been trained to be good at it. We have been conditioned by Society and our environment to think in certain ways and because these have been ingrained over and over again since birth, we sometimes struggle to understand our own minds and suffer with more frustration/ dissatisfaction/ anxiety/ low mood etc in our lives than we ought to.
Consider the following scenario;
(taken with permission from Dr Enda Murphy, Psychologist – His book, “5 Steps to Happiness”, published by Gill annd MacMillan is without doubt the best mental health book I have read)
Mary is a workaholic. She drives herself at whatever she does and demands she is in control of everything that effects her. She is merciless on herself and views any failure to be in control as a lack of motivation or some other character flaw. This is especially true in her attitude to others. She can’t abide people who settle for less than perfection. That is why she drives herself so. And there has been a big pay off in this for her. She is the boss of her own company. As for personal relationships though, well she just hasn’t found anybody who quite fits her check list. They seem alright in the beginning but as time goes on, the more flaws she finds, and Aoife just cant abide flaws. “Why cant they just think and be like me? “ she asks herself.
Does this sound familiar or even vaguely familiar? Living like Aoife is the most ineffective route to happiness and fulfilment – it can do immense damage to your mental health and is one of the leading causes of anxiety and depression. There is an attitude in Society that tries to sell Aoife’s life as the ideal type of life This concept of “being in control” and trying to be perfect is presented in advertising and the media (and in our own homes) as something we must strive for. There is no prize for second place. Of course the inference is that if you are not “in control” then this must be down to a lack of motivation or some other character flaw in you. This leads to a low frustration tolerance/ irritabily/ inability to accept failure/ anxiety etc.
This represents only some of the common mental health mistakes people make. It is easily fixed when you get appropriate advice from your health professional.
A nice way of evaluating how mentally healthy you are is to take this questionnaire and see if you perform well on a scale of 1-10 in each of them. Don’t take it too seriously though if you feel you don’t perform well- we are all flawed in some way or another- we can strive for good mental health but just like physical health, we don’t achieve an A+ all of the time.
How I feel about myself:
- I don’t get overwhelmed by my emotions- fear, anger, love, guilt or worries
- I can take life’s disappointments in my stride
- I have a tolerant, easy going attitude towards myself as well as others and I can laugh at myself
- I neither underestimate nor overestimate my abilities
- I accept my shortcomings
- I have self respect
- I feel able to deal with most situations
- I take pleasure in simple, everyday things
How I feel around other people:
- I am able to give love and to consider the interests of others
- I have personal relationships that are satisfying and lasting
- I like and trust others and feel that others will like and trust me
- I respect the many differences I find in people
- I do not take advantage of others, nor do I allow others to take advantage of me
- I can feel I am part of a group
- I feel a sense of responsibility to fellow human beings
How I meet the demands of life:
- I do something about my problems as they arise
- I accept my responsibilities whenever possible and adjust it to whenever necessary
- I shape my environment whenever possible and adjust it whenever necessary
- I plan ahead and do not fear the future
- I welcome new experiences and ideas
- I make use of my talents
- I set realistic goals for myself
- I am able to make my own decisions
- I am satisfied with putting the best effort into what I do
Remember no one characteristic can define you as having good mental health. Similarly if you are missing a few of them, it doesn’t mean that you have poor mental health. However no matter how you did in the questionnaire, like the rest of us you can do something to improve your mental health. Remember the better your mental health is, the better you will enjoy life and deal with the things life throws at you. And to improve your mental health all you have to do is cultivate these qualities.
Talk to us in the Practice if you feel you are struggling in any way.
At any time the Samaritans are also here to help.
Free call -116 123
Text -087 2 60 90 90