10 Ways to Look After Your Mental Health

UK’s leading mental health research charity, Mental Health Foundation, has set out to help people to thrive through understanding, protecting, and sustaining their mental health. They have established the Refugee Health Policy and Strategy Action Group, a national project equipping asylum seekers and refugees to take a greater role in advocating on issues of mental health and wellbeing, both locally and nationally. 

In line with national policy frameworks such as the New Scots Strategy and Volunteering for All, they have helped establish a pool of mental health advocates to address the longstanding issue that refugees are less likely to receive mental health support than the general population, due to cultural and language barriers and stigma.

The Refugee Health Policy and Strategy Action Group in Glasgow have been focusing on how asylum seekers and refugees can have a better voice and visibility in health, housing and education civic forums. In North Lanarkshire, Syrian refugees have been engaging with the local community through storytelling and individuals are connecting with their neighbours by being the authors of their stories. In North Ayrshire gardening as a means of social enterprise has been explored.

Mohamed Omar, Policy and Development Officer at Mental Health Foundation Scotland, writes: “Let’s try to understand the impact of fleeing from war and persecution have on people’s mental health, made worse when one arrives in a country where they don’t understand the language, culture or the system. When we talk about integration, let’s include asylum seekers and refugees’ voices in mainstream forums so that they feel less isolated and ultimately empowered to thrive in their new home.”

On the Mental Health Foundation web site, podcasts, videos, inspiring stories and research are made available, free of charge. Today on World Mental Health Day we share their 10 practical ways to look after your mental health. Use them and spread them.

  1. Talk about your feelings

Talking about your feelings can help you stay in good mental health and deal with times when you feel troubled.
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  1. Keep active

Regular exercise can boost your self-esteem and can help you concentrate, sleep, and feel better. Exercise keeps the brain and your other vital organs healthy, and is also a significant benefit towards improving your mental health.
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  1. Eat well

Your brain needs a mix of nutrients in order to stay healthy and function well, just like the other organs in your body. A diet that’s good for your physical health is also good for your mental health.
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  1. Drink sensibly

We often drink alcohol to change our mood. Some people drink to deal with fear or loneliness, but the effect is only temporary.

When the drink wears off, you feel worse because of the way the alcohol has affected your brain and the rest of your body. Drinking is not a good way to manage difficult feelings.
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  1. Keep in touch

There’s nothing better than catching up with someone face to face, but that’s not always possible. You can also give them a call, drop them a note, or chat to them online instead. Keep the lines of communication open: it’s good for you!
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  1. Ask for help

None of us are superhuman. We all sometimes get tired or overwhelmed by how we feel or when things don’t go to plan.

If things are getting too much for you and you feel you can’t cope, ask for help. Your family or friends may be able to offer practical help or a listening ear. Local services are there to help you.
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  1. Take a break

A change of scene or a change of pace is good for your mental health. It could be a five-minute pause from cleaning your kitchen, a half-hour lunch break at work, or a weekend exploring somewhere new. A few minutes can be enough to de-stress you. Give yourself some ‘me time’.
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  1. Do something you’re good at

What do you love doing? What activities can you lose yourself in? What did you love doing in the past?

Enjoying yourself can help beat stress. Doing an activity you enjoy probably means you’re good at it, and achieving something boosts your self-esteem.
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  1. Accept who you are

We’re all different. It’s much healthier to accept that you’re unique than to wish you were more like someone else. Feeling good about yourself boosts your confidence to learn new skills, visit new places and make new friends. Good self-esteem helps you cope when life takes a difficult turn.
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  1. Care for others

‘Friends are really important… We help each other whenever we can, so it’s a two-way street, and supporting them uplifts me.’

Caring for others is often an important part of keeping up relationships with people close to you. It can even bring you closer together.
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Since 1949, the Mental Health Foundation has been the UK’s leading charity for everyone’s mental health. With prevention at the heart of what they do, they aim to find and address the sources of mental health problems so that people and communities can thrive.