World Mental Health Day was first celebrated in 1992 with the initiative of the World Federation for Mental Health. Each year, the federation chooses a specific aspect of mental health to raise awareness for that individual issue, as well as good mental health overall. This year’s theme is “young people and mental health in a changing world.” Suicide is the second highest cause of death in people ages 15-29, and half of all mental illnesses begin before age 14. The unique challenges of adolescence and young adulthood can be enormous sources of stress and if not recognized and managed in a healthy way, can lead to mental illness.
Mental health is an extremely complex issue with plenty of individual variables, like genetic predispositions to certain illnesses from family or unique socioeconomic stressors. However, there are a few general tips you can use, whether you struggle with a mental illness or not, to try and keep yourself in the best health possible.
SUPPORT SYSTEM: If you feel yourself struggling, reach out to your support system. Your support system is a unique set of people around you that you trust and feel safe sharing with. This can be parents, friends, teachers, dance teachers, et cetera. Be honest when sharing with them so they can better understand your feelings and assist you. These people care about you, so don’t feel like you’re an inconvenience if you need someone to talk to. Remember: you are a part of someone else’s support system too. Be open and nonjudgmental if your friends reach out to you.
BREATHE: Focus on your breathing. If you feel your mind getting taken over with stress, take some time just to breathe. Wherever you are, stop and pause. Find something in front of you to anchor your vision—and focus on each inhale, hold your breath for a few counts, then exhale. It will help you slow down and relax.
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POSITIVE SELF TALK: Talk to yourself like you talk to your friends. If you feel negative self-talk creeping in and taking over your thoughts, pause and ask, “would I say that to my friends?” Chances are, you wouldn’t. You are your own best friend, so be nice to that best friend.
You’re not alone. But if you feel you have nowhere to turn, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number is 1-800-273-8255, and is available 24/7.
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