Understanding Mental Health

As time has gone on, mental health has been an ever-growing topic of conversation. People have begun to understand the importance of Mental Health and place an intrinsic value on taking care of it. Despite the increased interest in mental health, many fail to grasp a proper model for it. In this article, we want to highlight a specific model of mental health that we think best describes the psychological state of many people’s emotions. Mental Health is subjective, meaning that it affects people differently. This is dependent on an individual’s emotions, the way they cope with natural stresses within their environment and their behavioral patterns in relation to stressful exposure. Using this model, anyone struggling with mental health challenges can be described as someone who is no longer able to cope with such stressors without detrimental effect to his or her livelihood and well-being.

Mental Health is something that should be considered a priority and should be cared for by all. Unfortunately, many adults don’t acknowledge its importance as its significance has not always been recognised. While some may not consider mental health to be valuable, they still greatly value the well-being of their friends and family. It is to be noted, however, that mental health is not only a part of our well-being but can greatly affect it. Our behaviour is a result of the stability of the state of our well-being. Since mental health impacts our behaviours, decision-making skills and viewpoints in life, it can be said that mental health is inherent to our well-being. Naturally, poor mental health can negatively impact certain aspects of our lives often resulting in a drop in performance in many areas of life. In terms of school, things like: academics, extracurricular activities and social relationships are all impacted which can lead to adverse consequences that are not limited to the boundaries of our mental health.

As said earlier, decision-making abilities are greatly affected which can directly impact our future decisions and so poor mental health can easily sway the course of our futures to our own detriment. For example, poor mental health can easily cause major demotivation within students. This intense demotivation will inevitably cause students not to do homework, never to study, not to participate in sports or cultural activities. This will not only lead to an emotionally unfulfilling life, but will also affect physical well-being. This demotivation is only the beginning of a dangerous and seemingly inescapable cycle. After suffering from poor grades, ever-weakening relationships between friends and family, and missing out on activities one once found joyful, one becomes incredibly demoralized. This demoralization will not only make one feel awful, but will spiral one into yet another bout of demotivation, causing more demoralization. This cycle will continue until something is forced to give way, and may result in a mental breakdown.

At a school like RBHS, a major part of many of the students’ lives is school life itself. It is therefore crucial for mental health within RBHS to be focused upon, and it should be a sector of life properly understood and catered for. Fostering a positive environment aimed at breaking the stigmas attached to mental health will begin to break the feelings of isolation and helplessness that people with poor mental health tend to feel. Educating people in order to dismantle stigmas is a good and effective way to achieve this desirable, positive environment. This education can be used as a tool by those who understand the struggles of poor mental health to assist their peers at the times of their own struggles. Comfort and support for one another is much easier for people to provide in an environment that recognises vulnerability and provides empathy and care. By sensitizing RBHS to mental health challenges, this positive environment can be achieved.

Taking mental health seriously will create a space where people feel safe and secure to engage with their feelings, express and work through their issues, and foster an atmosphere of acceptance and understanding. Recognizing the importance of our mental health in the community around us, is already a productive and wonderful step to take. As Sufjan Stevens puts it, “Somewhere in the desert, there’s a forest.” No matter how poor your mental health may be, there are steps that can be taken towards getting better. Even in the vast emptiness of a desert, with the help of people around you, you can always find a way to flourish.

by Ziyaad Shaboodien and Ryan Arenhold