Although nothing is more important than our physical well-being, we shouldn’t neglect our emotional, social, and psychological well-being either. And oftentimes, it’s precisely these types of well-being that get disrupted, shattered, and affected.
They get disrupted by our lives, our thoughts, our choices, and the world around us. And that isn’t even the biggest problem - the biggest problem is that we rarely take action to change this. Yet, that’s what’s so often needed.
Mental wealth is mental health x1000. It may not be easy to get there, but once you do, you’ll see how rewarding it is.
What you need to do is commit to yourself. And if you’re here reading this, you’re ready to make that commitment.
By the end of this article we hope you’ll feel more positive about your life, understand the importance of mental wealth, but also be ready to continue improving it (we can help you with that too!).
Let’s get into it!
What Is Mental Wealth?
Mental wealth can be understood and explained through understanding mental health. Hence, according to the WHO (World Health Organization),
mental health is a state of well-being in which an individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.
Mental health is fundamental to our collective and individual ability as humans to think, emote, interact with each other, earn a living and enjoy life. On this basis, the promotion, protection and restoration of mental health can be regarded as a vital concern of individuals, communities and societies throughout the world.
In essence, mental health is crucial for us to function and live our everyday lives in a way that makes us happy and satisfied. Our mental health dictates our mood, our predominant emotions, and our prevailing state of mind.
And while we may face challenges to keep our mental health in check, it’s certainly possible to overcome them (or at least learn how to manage them).
Mental Wealth Definition
Mental wealth is:
- an integral aspect of our lives;
- the ability to manage various elements of one’s life in order to maintain balance and harmony within;
- Meant to be everyone’s priority (how we relate to ourselves is how we relate to the rest of the people);
- very important at every stage of our lives (childhood, adolescence, and all the way through adulthood);
- being your true self and not being afraid and/or ashamed of it;
- as important as keeping your physical body healthy and well;
- a factor affecting the way we feel, act, think, and behave;
- something that according to Adam Ant, “needs a great deal of attention. It's the final taboo and it needs to be faced and dealt with”;
- determined by a wide range of factors such as the environment, biology, socio-economic background, and so on;
- feeling good in your own skin;
- loving life and all it has to offer;
- the aspect that helps us determine how we handle our daily lives, relate to others, and make decisions and choices;
- said to worsen if one:
- experiences sexual violence, trauma, and/or abuse;
- witnesses war violence and its consequences;
- experiences social exclusion and human rights’ violation;
- practices a severely unhealthy lifestyle;
- develops an addiction (such as alcohol addiction, sexual addiction, drug addiction, to name a few);
- lives in poverty and can’t meet their basic needs;
- has physical illnesses (this may very depending on whether the individual deals with chronic conditions or acute ones);
- has certain predispositions that make them prone to mental issues (such as genetic factors and family history).
Mental wealth isn’t:
- only the absence of mental illnesses, mental disorder and disabilities (it encompansees one’s overall well-being);
- highlighted enough in our everyday lives;
- about how much money you have, the job position you hold, the career you’re chasing, the people you’re hanging out with, and so on - it’s about how you feel within and what you radiate from the inside out;
- permanent (we do have to work on our well-being to sustain it);
- something one needs to leave to chance - there are many ways, methods, and courses of action that help one improve it (we’ll discuss some of them in the How To Develop Mental Wealth? section);
- only impacting the individual's life - it has repercussions on their family, fiends, colleagues, and sometimes even the whole community;
- all in your head - it truly is a relevant aspect of our lives, although unfortunately often neglected and undervalued;
- supposed to be taken for granted;
- something that comes easily to all (in fact, many struggle with leading happy and healthy lives, and feeling comfortable with their mental health);
- supposed to be a difficult or a daunting undertaking (while it may look like it, knowing what steps to take and when to take them can help your life tremendously).
The History of Mental Wealth
Mental wealth, or mental health, has its origins in mental hygiene. The term mental hygiene was coined by William Sweetser in the 19th century. The term basically laid the foundation for all the upcoming mental health concepts.
There’s also Isaac Ray, one of the founders of the American Psychiatric Association, who further elaborated on mental hygiene. He defined it as
the art of preserving the mind against all incidents and influences calculated to deteriorate its qualities, impair its energies, or derange its movements. The management of the bodily powers in regard to exercise, rest, food, clothing and climate, the laws of breeding, the government of the passions, the sympathy with current emotions and opinions, the discipline of the intellect—all these come within the province of mental hygiene.
While mental hygiene was considered important, people who struggled with mental illnesses were faced with real challenges. Namely, throughout history, mentally ill patients are known to have been frequently punished, locked, and stigmatized. Many lived in substandard conditions, and some were even abandoned by their family members.
In the Middle Ages, for instance, many mental disorders were even perceived as “the work of the devil”.
Of course, many of these perceptions changed over time as people’s consciousness shifted, but it was especially noticeable with the growing human rights movement that dominated the 20th century.
Nowadays, there’s a much better understanding of what mental illnesses are, what causes them, and how they can be treated.
That’s why mental health is deemed so important, which brings us to the next part in our article.
Why Is Mental Wealth Important?
It goes without saying that mental wealth is important. In fact, mental wealth not only protects your emotional well-being, it brings about better physical health, too.
Mental wealth impacts our thoughts and behaviors, everyday habits,and general understanding of life. It also shows how we relate to others, and how much we allow others to connect with us.
It’s also there to show us how we handle our everyday challenges, pain and sadness, and unexpected events.
It also allows us to make positive contributions to our communities, and cope with stressful situations better.
In essence, mental wealth is important because it helps us evaluate how satisfied we are with our lives on the whole, and more importantly, it gives us the tools that help us cope and deal with our inner world. Of course, this should come from our own preferences - not what we’ve been conditioned to believe.
Although oftentimes dissatisfaction is a reaction to the injustices we experience in the world, it’s difficult to change the world alone. Instead, a good place to start is improving our own, individual mental well-being. So, when we’re not satisfied, it's up to us to take action and make the necessary changes so that we can get back on track.
How To Develop Mental Wealth?
Treat yourself with kindness and avoid self-criticism as much as possible. Silencing your inner critic can be challenging, but once you get into the habit of lifting yourself up rather than putting yourself down, it’ll become your go-to mechanism..
Also, know when to step away from situations, people, and events which affect your mental wealth negatively. These are all scenarios when having self-respect and self-worth are more than needed.
Set realistic life goals
Deciding what you want from all areas of your life (professionally, privately, academically, financially, and so on) is very important because it shows you where you want to be heading and what expectations you have both from yourself and from life.
Of course, things don’t always pan out as we’ve imagined them, but that doesn’t mean we should chastize or belittle ourselves, and it certainly doesn’t mean we should give up on our dreams. What it means is that although sometimes there are setbacks and obstacles on the way, we may need to take a break, reevaluate where we are, and then continue on our path.
Take care of your body
Taking care of our bodies is something that many struggle with because we’ve been conditioned to seek out what modern day patriarchy, ad campaigns, and Hollywood have categorized as “perfection”, so we always find things that are wrong with them (not having abs, believing we don’t have the perfect skin, nose, lips, and so on).
Taking care of our bodies and loving them can truly transform our lives. This also includes eating healthy, but also allowing ourselves comfort food every now and then, when we need a pick-me-up. It also means exercising frequently, but not in the sense of punishing our bodies to look better! Rather, it’s about feeling better. Doing an exercise you enjoy (a sport like tennis or rock climbing, something softer like yoga or tai chi, or an activity like power walking/jogging) will not only improve your physical health - it’ll also make your brain feel more chipper thanks to the endorphins flooding your receptors.
Some other ways of caring for your body are drinking plenty of water, avoiding alcohol, drugs and other harmful substances, and of course, getting enough sleep.
And while not all of us are keen on writing, it certainly is a valuable activity and it’s worth giving a try. Giving gratitude for all you have achieved so far can help you appreciate what you already have, while staying focused on what you’re striving to obtain next.
This doesn’t have to be an activity that disrupts your everyday life, or that requires a lot of time. It doesn't even have to be “amazingly” written - you can simply understand it as an activity that allows you to process your thoughts and write them down so that you can understand what you’re feeling more clearly.
Staying in the present moment is one of the greatest challenges we encounter in our everyday lives because we’re worried about the future and regretful about the past.
Mindfulness is considered one of the key factors that contribute to one’s well-being, and as a concept, it’s becoming increasingly popular. There are many ways to start working on your mindfulness mentality by working on calming your thoughts and reducing them, meditating, spending time in nature, and so on.
Also, it can be something as simple as paying attention to your breathing, or taking a walk and letting your senses - your smell, sight, and touch - take over the mental processes for you. Observe rather than analyze. Such simple mindfulness activities can be practised on a daily basis - anywhere and anytime. And while at the beginning you may find it challenging, over time, it’ll become easier for you to relax and let yourself be.
Surround yourself with people you resonate with
Having friends we can rely on and be fully open with is one of the most important things in our lives. Nothing can substitute the people we love and resonate with.
In general, people who form strong connections and socialize more lead happier lives than those who don’t. Of course, engaging in sport activities, going out, traveling, and so on further help strengthen these connections and put us in a good mood.
Get help when you need it
Finally, working on your mental wealth doesn’t come without its challenges. However, acknowledging them puts you ahead of the problem. So, if you’re struggling with something, dealing with issues, and/or can’t seem to continue living the way you used to, it’s only logical to ask for help from a family member, a friend, or a professional. You don’t need to handle everything life throws at you on your own.
Examples of Mental Wealth in Everyday Life
Close interpersonal relationships are probably the most important connections we form in life. Connections with people can trigger a whirlwind of emotions too - from love, joy, fulfillment and satisfaction, to sadness, anger, pain, frustration, abandonment, and so on.
And you don’t even need to form a lot of connections to feel these. Sometimes all it takes is one person to cause us to feel a wide range of emotions and turn our world upside down.
That’s what’s so fascinating about human connections and interpersonal relationships - they have the power to bring out the best in you, but also the worst in you.
This matters because all these feelings and connections have a ripple effect on your mental wealth. It’s fascinating to observe how much personal connections affect us, and our overall well-being. As Roy Wagner put it:
To a degree that we seldom realize, we depend upon the participation of others in our lives, and upon our own participation in the lives of others. Our success and effectiveness as persons is based upon this participation, and upon an ability to maintain a controlling competence in communicating with others.
Of course, this all depends on our personal life and the type of connections we’re willing to form, but also maintain. In other words, it’s about how willing we are to form deep connections.
That said, each of us has a different notion of what a deep connection means and how emotionally invested we are in keeping them. Apart from forming and maintaining connections, we also need to take into account how we deal with these relationships falling apart.
For instance, a breakup may result in a massive heartbreak and a nervous breakdown for some, thus leading to mental health issues.
On the other hand, others may take this lightly depending on how seriously they took the relationship, why it ended, who ended it, and so on. In other words, it’s difficult to generalize such scenarios, as they affect us all differently.
All in all, interpersonal relationships inspire us to grow and they challenge our mental wealth.
According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, empathy is defined as “the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner”.
In essence, empathy is the ability to put yourself in other people’s shoes emotionally in order to understand what they’re going through. This is probably one of the most important qualities a person can possess, because it helps form a strong connection between people.
Everyone can develop and cultivate empathy if they’re willing to. Some people are naturally good at it, but it can also be practised. And the earlier an individual is exposed to the concept of empathy, the better their chances at being good at it are.
In fact, do you know that some countries even encourage learning empathy at school? One such example is Denmark. Allegedly, teaching it has been compulsory since 1993, and this is considered to be a factor that contributes to the happiness of the country.
The most important thing about empathy is feeling like we’re not alone with whatever it is that we’re dealing with at the moment. It’s about having that safe, intimate space to open up to another human being, and simply have the freedom and courage to express our troubles without the fear of being judged, ridiculed, and/or mocked. This is therapeutic in itself.
And while oftentimes we may have to address our issues in another way (for instance, by asking for professional help), having someone to rely on is a huge asset.
Hearing someone say: “I understand”, “I can relate to this”, “You’re not alone”, “I feel you”, “You’re not the only one going through this”, and so on, are much more than random statements for a person who struggles with an issue. Offering unconditional support and being there for someone not only helps the other person and their mental health - it helps us grow as individuals too.
Ways to improve empathy
There are many ways to become more empathetic. Here are some suggestions:
- Be curious about other people. Feel brave to step out of your comfort zone and be inquisitive about other people. Learn about their life experiences, beliefs, thoughts, and opinions. Challenge them, compare them to yours, and be willing to discuss them. Whatever it is that you do - the key thing is to show sincere interest.
- Pay close attention to their body language. Sometimes to understand what a person is going through and know whether you can relate to it or not, you need to observe their body language, gestures, and facial expressions. In fact, sometimes that’s all you need to pay attention to in order to comprehend what they’re dealing with at a given moment. Also, listen to the tone of their voice, and look into their eyes. Eye contact helps form a deeper connection between two people.
- Read. While this may sound weird, reading literary fiction is said to improve empathy. The act of reading and being exposed to the characters’ stories makes us understand what others are thinking and feeling. Hence, this becomes a useful skill in our everyday life.
- Get away from your usual environment. Visiting new places, learning about new cultures, and simply changing your routines opens you up to new perspectives. It gives you a better sense of appreciation for others, but it also forces you to reconsider everything you’ve known so far.
- Ask questions. Be willing to engage in conversations with others. Learn more about your friends, family members, colleagues, and even acquaintances. While the questions you can ask will definitely vary depending on how close you are with a person, you can still learn a great deal about others by asking meaningful questions.
- Acknowledge your biases. We’re all biased, and this is a fact. However, acknowledging them is the first step toward overcoming them.
- Stand up for others. While we can’t always win other people’s battles, we can definitely offer out support, and be part of the “winning team”.
How to approach this?
- How big is your circle of friends? Do you believe in quality over quantity?
- If you’re employed, do you have a close relationship with your colleagues and/or boss, or is it purely professional?
- How do you think your interpersonal relationships affect your mental wealth?
- Are there any toxic people in your life? If there are, how do they affect your outlook on life? Also, if you deem them toxic, how do you cope with their toxicity? What’s more, do you know why they’re still a part of your life?
- What qualities should a person possess in order to enrich your life?
- If you could change something about yourself, what would that be?
- How would your loved ones describe you?
- Do you experience any difficulties in getting along with others? If yes, what specifically?
- How do you cope with someone else’s struggles and issues? What kind of a support are you able to provide? Do you agree that some of the most comforting moments in life are those when you realize that others are facing the same problems as you?
- How would your friends describe you?
- What do people criticize about you (if anything)? If they do, are their claims valid?
- How would you rate your emotional happiness during family gatherings?
- Have you ever felt like the black sheep in the family? If you have, why? What has made you feel that way? And have you ever stood up for yourself?
- If you seem withdrawn at times, do people ask what’s going on? Do they offer help? Also, how willing are you to open up to them? And vice versa - if someone close to you doesn’t quite seem like themselves lately, will you approach them and inquire about the situation?
- Do you tend to avoid any topics with your close friends? Is there anything you find uncomfortable to discuss?
- How does a person’s presence contribute to your emotional well-being?
The work place can be a source of frustration for some people, and a place for inspiration for others. Whichever group you fall into, chances are you’ll experience stress at some point at work. Plus, considering work plays a major role in our lives, it can be easy to see why it can lead to so many physical and mental problems.
This is so because work affects our personal life too. If you aren't happy at work, you probably won’t be happy when you go back home either. As simple as that.
Moreover, work dissatisfaction can lead to developing mental health disorders quite fast. This affects workers much more frequently than one may anticipate. For instance, 1 in 6 people are struggling with their mental health at work.
That said, the problem with experiencing mental health issues at work is that employees are rarely willing to discuss that openly, as they fear for their job position. They’re afraid they might be misunderstood, mocked, deemed as non-qualified and unsuitable for the job, or worse: they might end up fired.
However, hiding these problems makes them worse in the long-run. Of course, it also affects the employees’ performance and commitment to their work.
As a result, many such mental health issues and challenges go unnoticed in the workplace. Receiving adequate treatment and being able to talk about them, on the other hand, can not only alleviate the symptoms, but it can make the whole work experience much better for the individual.
Also, this can affect the whole company's success too! Did you know that according to WHO (World Health Organization) without additional treatment, 12 billion working days will be lost to mental illness each year until 2030?
Having said that, nowadays there’s also an increasing tendency for companies to look after their employees’ mental health much more than they used to in the past. At least, they’re willing to discuss mental health policies more openly.
Let’s take a look at what some professionals say about this.
1) Nick Patel, CEO of Wellable
“At a minimum, employers leading the way in mental health benefits should offer two core benefits: (i) an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) and (ii) mental health coverage. The companies that are differentiating themselves in regard to EAPs are the ones that want employees to use the program. Many employers “check the box” by providing an EAP vendor that does not focus on driving engagement. Employers need to also provide mental health coverage, thereby removing barriers for employees who may need professional help.”
2) Renae Shaw, Head of HR at Search Laboratory
“Every company should invest in employee assistance programmes, such as free counselling, so staff members have both an internal and external support network and gives them the opportunity to address problems that they may not want to discuss with a manager or colleague.
Having a good return to work process is also important to ensure workers feel like they can manage their mental health without fear of risking their job. It also means managers are asking the right questions in the right way and staff feel like they can be honest.”
3) Shona Davies, Founder of Shona Davies Consulting
“To ensure that their existing sickness policy applies to mental health conditions as well. I would also suggest having a nominated person that an employee can talk to if they’re struggling and ideally, ensure training for line managers in how to manage employee well-being. There are many charitable organisations who are able to offer such training, coaching and support for a donation!”
How to approach this?
If you’re the employer:
- Does your company have a mental health policy? If it does, what does it include? And if it doesn’t, would you consider having one?
- Do you give flexible working hours to your employees?
- Have you ever talked with your staff to proactively manage a mental health crisis that may have happened at your company?
- How do you feel about one-on-one supervision? Do you think this is something that can bring more productivity in your company or stress out employees even more?
- How would you react if an employee asked to take a day off because they were feeling _________ (fill in the blank with a negative emotion)? What would you say to them?
- If you find out you have a depressed employee, what would your initial reaction be? Here are some tips as to how to approach this:
- introduce weekly catch-ups to minimize the employee’s workload and stress;
- offer flexible working offers;
- prioritize tasks and have the employee focus only on them;
- ask them every once in a while how they’re holding up;
- give them a day off if they need it.
- Have you ever known that an employee struggled with a specific mental illness that you ignored?
- Who do you go to when you experience mental health issues at work?
- How stressed are you about your company?
- How do you keep your mental wealth in check?
- What’s the most important thing you can do for your employees’ mental wealth?
- What type of workplace adjustments are you willing to make to accommodate your employees’ needs/wishes (for instance, if someone is suffering from seasonal affective disorder (SAD), are you willing to ensure the space has more natural light, get some therapy lamps, and so on)?
- How do you feel about relaxing absence rules and more flexible vacation days?
- How would you encourage your employees to open up to you more?
If you’re the employee:
- How do you usually feel at work?
- Are you happy with your colleagues and your employer?
- How satisfied are you with your salary? Do you feel it helps you to satisfy more than just your basic needs?
- Have you ever dealt with a mental health issue triggered by your work environment? Did you speak about it with your boss and/or colleagues? If you did, what measures were taken (if any)?
- Do you think the company you work for can do more to ensure its employees have better well-being?
- How do you react to criticism?
- Have you ever experienced any of the following at your work:
- inadequate health policy;
- inflexible working hours;
- toxic work environment and unsupportive colleagues;
- a very strict boss;
- unclear tasks and abnormal workload;
- very low support for employees;
- poor communication and unclear management?
- Have you ever experienced a mental illness episode and hid it from your boss because you were afraid that _________ (fill in the blank)?
- Are you satisfied with the HR team at your workplace? Why? Why not?
- How is your current employer handing work-related mental health issues? What do you wish they did differently? Would you talk to them about this and see whether they'll accept some of the suggestions?
- Is mental wealth something that’s talked about at your work?
- According to you, what should employers do to provide employees with a healthy workplace?
- Have you ever assumed a colleague could be dealing with a mental health issue? If yes, did you try to approach them and talk about it? Here are some tips that can help you tell if a colleague is dealing with something:
- they behave strangely and look absent-minded;
- there are noticeable changes in their work output, overall focus, and motivation levels;
- they struggle to make intelligent decisions;
- they appear anxious, withdrawn, and detached.
When we discuss mental wealth within any educational context we need to understand two possible scenarios:
- One’s mental wealth gets challenged due to something that happens to them within the educational environment;
- One struggles with their mental wealth due to private reasons, hence this ends up affecting their academic performance.
Both scenarios come with a lot of challenges. Of course, to fully understand an individual’s state, we need more details. For instance, their age, thus what level of education they are currently pursuing; the reasons for their mental health issues; the triggers; the exact mental health struggles; and the possible solutions.
That said, many consider it a taboo to discuss their mental health struggles. For instance, high school students may feel uncomfortable sharing their issues with their peers as they’re afraid of being ridiculed.
Middle schoolers may not fully understand what’s going on with them - especially if they’re dealing with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), stress, depression, or anxiety (all which may manifest differently than they would in an adult person).
Plus, when we consider how much stress all of us experience on a daily basis, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that youths face the same challenges from an early age. For instance, do you know that children nowadays
are faced with an unprecedented amount of stress and anxiety—25% of 13- to 18-year-olds will experience an anxiety disorder according to the National Institutes of Mental Health. Such early stress levels can negatively impact learning, memory, behavior, and both physical and mental health, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Escalating stress and pressure continue into middle and high school—a survey of 22,000 high school students conducted by the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence found that, on average, students reported feeling negative emotions, such as stress, fatigue, and boredom, 75% of the time.
Students at a university level may neglect their issues, as they’re focused on achieving the results they need (especially if they’re on a scholarship, have student debts, and/or worry about the tuition fees their parents have to pay so they know they need to be successful).
What’s interesting is that sometimes, while the educators can notice certain symptoms and/or behaviors within the students/pupils, the parents can be in complete denial.
The problem with such behaviors is that it always ends up affecting the “educatees”. In other words, mental health issues have been linked with poor academic performance, increased school suspensions, worse interpersonal relationships, and so on.
Also, it may be difficult for pupils/students to keep up with the workload, pay attention to classes; they also might start feeling overwhelmed even by the most basic challenges, and simply become unable to handle a wide range of emotions.
That said, not addressing these issues may also bring about “harsher” side effects. For instance, certain teengers or even students may develop alcohol addictions as coping mechanisms, or start having self-worth issues, as they might feel different from their peers.
Some may develop serious anxiety, engage in substance abuse, and/or slowly alienate their families and friends.
Addressing the mental issues that pop up for individuals is key to achieving balance and being the best version an individual can be. Healing may not be always easy or immediate, but it’s key to restoring balance. Plus, addressing the symptoms and the problems early on allows people to have a better chance at successfully handing their condition(s).
Leaving illnesses and disorders untreated will not only worsen the symptoms and the overall condition, but it may lead to developing other issues too. What’s more, certain issues may even lead to suicide attempts. In fact, suicide is said to be the second most common cause of death among college students.
Finally, while addressing one’s problems is crucial to achieving academic success, we should also stress the importance of belonging. Having a sense of belonging within a particular academic environment makes one feel accepted, valued, and comfortable not only to achieve more, but to feel free to speak openly about their issues.
How to approach this?
If you’re the educator:
- Do you think the educational institution you work at looks after the educatees’ mental health? How? Also, do you agree with its approach? What would you change (if anything)?
- How do you handle students/pupils who have mental health challenges?
- Do you have the habit of asking your students/pupils about the way they feel when you greet them? Or what’s bothering them? If yes, what do you think about this? Do you think asking such questions means interfering with their private lives or not?
- Has someone ever experienced an attack of fear, panic, or anxiety during your class? What did you do?
- Have you ever thought that low performance students could be dealing with mental health issues and that their low scores aren’t due to them being lazy, not talented, and/or disinterested? How would you approach these students? Would you change your testing style? Would you ask them which assessment methods they’re comfortable with? And if you make such changes, how do you think the rest of the group/class may react?
- What do you do during your classes to make the pupils/students feel comfortable and willing to participate in the lecture?
- Do you think pupils/students should get their mental health assessed from time to time? Perhaps through a mental health questionnaire?
- If you’re teaching youngsters, do you communicate with their parents? And vice versa - are the parents willing to communicate with you? How open are they when it comes to sharing details regarding their children’s challenges?
- How do you promote mental health literacy in your classroom?
- How would you change your school tasks and responsibilities in order to reduce stress?
- What do you think about Mental Health First Aid Training? Do you think it’s something all educators should undertake? Why? Why not?
- As an educator, how do you look after your own mental wealth? Do you face any challenges? If yes, do you talk openly about them? Do you think they could be impeding your performance?
If you’re the educatee:
- How do you handle the obstacles that come your way?
- Do you frequently procrastinate? Why?
- Do you get satisfaction from the things you do/learn at school/university? If not, what is the reason? How can you make your educational experience better?
- Have you ever struggled emotionally within any educational context? Have you asked for help?
- Would you say discussing mental health issues is a taboo among your peers?
- Do you have a positive outlook on your life? Would you say your schooling plays a role in it?
- What’s the most difficult thing about being a student/pupil nowadays? What would you change?
- Have your sleeping habits ever changed due to exams/tests/presentations/projects? How was your overall mood?
- Do you have trouble focusing at school/university? If yes, how have you tried to tackle this issue?
- Has your appetite increased or decreased as a result of study stress?
- Would you say you’re able to maintain a healthy balance between free time, socializing, education, and physical activity? How can you make things even better?
- How do you deal with stress from studying?
- Have you ever felt like you were withdrawing from your loved ones? Why?
- How often do you experience mood swings when you’re at school/university?
- If you’ve ever dealt with mental health issues, have you gotten the necessary support from your educator (apart from your family)? If you didn’t but wished to have gotten it, what type of support would you have liked to get?
- How much confidence and determination do you have in:
- keeping up with deadlines?
- managing your current workload?
- passing your exams/tests successfully?
- completing your homework?
- using your research skills?
- taking part in class discussions?
- engaging in group projects and teamwork?
- keeping all your academic work organized?
- Over the last six months, how frequently have you:
- been unable to fall asleep due to “academic worries”?
- felt lonely, abandoned, and/or misunderstood?
- contemplated hurting yourself (if at all)?
- felt supported by your family members and loved ones?
- felt mistreated by an educator and/or a peer?
Improving your mental wealth leads to a more fulfilling, carefree life. It allows one to actively participate in one’s life, rather than feel like a passive observer. This section is one that includes all the aspects we discussed in the previous ones, but at the same time it contains so much more - it refers to our lives as a whole, and all the pieces that comprise it.
That said, obtaining overall well-being doesn’t come easy to all. Many (even if they don’t struggle with specific mental illnesses, and/or disorders) feel their mental health deteriorating at some point in their lives.
There could be many triggers for this. For instance, the death of a loved one and the grief that comes with it; heartbreak and painful relationships that simply knock us out of balance; physical illnesses that affect our emotional well-being; family issues; the inability to cope with certain events; and so on.
In fact, there are countless reasons as to why someone may struggle with their mental health, and it’s impossible to list all of them.
Keep in mind, however, that mental health isn’t about striving to obtain a perfect life and exclude all stress and sadness from it.
In fact, one of the most important aspects of mental health is how we cope with such feelings and scenarios, how we handle them and how we grow through such situations and temptations rather than trying to shut down those experiences.
After all, sadness, grief, and stress are a part of our everyday lives. Although the level at which we experience them can vary, they are there. Now, how we decide to tackle them says a great deal about how we approach life, but also how much we let these feelings affect us.
A lot of the time, acknowledging that we’re feeling down, depressed, sad, or angry is better for our emotional well=being rather than suppressing it. Of course, this doesn’t mean we should let these feelings wreak havoc in our lives - it simply means we noticed them, we accepted them, and we voiced them, which is a good start.
In other words, we have the keys to our mental wealth at all times - it’s just that sometimes we prefer to keep things locked or aren’t aware that we can actually help ourselves.
How to approach this?
- How do you feel about life in general? Do you find it enjoyable or do you perceive it as a harsh struggle? And more specifically, how satisfied are you with your current life?
- To what extent do you find the things you do in your life to be worthwhile?
- How open are you to changes in the different areas of your life? Do you think considering various aspects can help you see things from a different perspective and make you feel better about certain things? As Sandra Marinella suggested, “changing our perspectives allows us to shift from the mental trap of rumination -- or ruination -- to the empowerment of reflection.”
- How concerned are you about your mental health? Do you consider your mental health to be in good shape? What do you do to make sure your mental health doesn’t crumble?
- How much stress would you say you have on a daily basis? What do you do to minimize it (if anything)?
- On a scale from 1 to 10 (10 being the highest and 1 being the lowest) how would you rate your overall well-being?
- Are you an anxious person? If yes, how do you handle your anxiety?
- On a scale from 1 to 10 (10 being the highest and 1 being the lowest) how would you rate your energy levels? If there are things that are draining you, do you do something to change them?
- What do you worry about the most?
- Do you have trouble sleeping at night? If yes, what are your concerns?
- How do you manage your emotions when you feel unhappy or are generally not in a good mood?
- Are others able to tell when it’s not your day? What gives you away?
- What are some regrets you have about life and certain choices you may have made in the past? How would you approach them now, from this perspective, if you had the chance?
- What does your perfect day look like?
- Do you think you successfully manage your work-life balance?
- What brightens up your days?
- What are some unfulfilled wishes, goals, and dreams you have? What can you do to attain them?
Famous Quotes About Mental Wealth
“What goes on in our heads solely determines the level at which we function in society, our physical health, and the degree of our mental and emotional stability and maturity.”
“I think the idea of a 'mental health day' is something completely invented by people who have no clue what it's like to have bad mental health. The idea that your mind can be aired out in twenty-four hours is kind of like saying heart disease can be cured if you eat the right breakfast cereal. Mental health days only exist for people who have the luxury of saying 'I don't want to deal with things today' and then can take the whole day off, while the rest of us are stuck fighting the fights we always fight, with no one really caring one way or another, unless we choose to bring a gun to school or ruin the morning announcements with a suicide.”
“The mentally ill people in our lives, as they strive to build healthy, well-supported, and rewarding lives for themselves, can show us all how to reconnect with the most primal of human urges, the urge to be of use, disentangling from social striving, consumer obsession, cynicism, boredom, and isolation, and honoring it among the true sources of human happiness.”
“One of the things that baffles me (and there are quite a few) is how there can be so much lingering stigma with regards to mental illness, specifically bipolar disorder. In my opinion, living with manic depression takes a tremendous amount of balls. Not unlike a tour of Afghanistan (though the bombs and bullets, in this case, come from the inside). At times, being bipolar can be an all-consuming challenge, requiring a lot of stamina and even more courage, so if you're living with this illness and functioning at all, it's something to be proud of, not ashamed of. They should issue medals along with the steady stream of medication.”
“Our approach to modern health care focuses so much on removing symptoms, that we’ve learned to equate immediate relief with healing. But healing is much more than simply feeling better in the moment; it requires true transformation, and transformation is rarely comfortable.”
“Screw all mental illness stigma. Having the courage to admit yourself for psychiatric care to heal is phenomenal. Shrugging off a panic attack is badass. Battling through intense spells of fatigue and demotivation is incredible. Going to the psychologist to attend to your mental health is a boss move. Achieving things despite having little to no interest or pleasure is impressive. Frequently practicing self-care is fantastic. Picking yourself up after hitting rock bottom is exceptional. Openly talking about your mental health struggles is courageous. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.”
“Your mental health is very important, take a pill of happiness every morning
This too shall pass. The threat is real, but the fear is growing bigger in mind, throw that out.
What will happen tomorrow? Nothing as planned, all of a sudden no plans can be planned, so why worry about failure of plans.
For being happy plan for today. Develop a bad memory, treat every day as new. Plan on being happy and making others happy. Do not look into the past nor try sneaking into the future, just cherish today. Treat today with utmost respect, worry tomorrow about tomorrow, and day after about day after. Just smile and be happy today.”
“Mental health discussions should not hog the spotlight when celebrities are involved. Everything should not just be about the Chester Bennington’s and the Robin Williams’s of the world. Yes, they were truly remarkable people in their own right, but if we focus on helping the Average Joe or Plain Jane, we might unlock their ingenuity. Don’t overlook the ‘little man,’ everyone has something important to contribute to society, regardless of their socio-demographic background.”
“If you are feeling anxious, sad or depressed, chances are you are thinking about something that either happened in the past or something you fear will happen in the future. Stop your travel in time and bring your thoughts back to the now, you cannot change anything that has either happened or not happened yet. You can only live in what is happening, and embrace the peace of your current moment.”
“Mental health problems don’t define who you are. They are something you experience. You walk in the rain and you feel the rain, but, importantly, YOU ARE NOT THE RAIN.”
“…we live in a world where if you break your arm, everyone runs over to sign your cast, but if you tell people you’re depressed, everyone runs the other way. That’s the stigma. We are so… accepting of any body part breaking down, other than our brains. And that’s ignorance. That’s pure ignorance. And that ignorance has created a world that doesn’t understand depression, that doesn’t understand mental health.”
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What are the signs of poor mental health?
Noticing the first signs of poor mental health is important, because the earlier you address your issue(s), the better the chances of recovery. Each mental health problem manifests differently, so there are many different symptoms.
That said, there are certain warning signs of mental illness, so if you’re experiencing some of them (or you notice them in a loved one), contacting a mental health professional is a good idea.
You may find yourself eating more or less than you usually do. While this isn’t such a “scary” symptom (for instance, if you’re a woman you probably undergo appetite changes during PMS), it may mean something if it comes in combination with some other symptoms.
Dramatic changes in your sleep schedule can indicate there’s an underlying cause. Of course, this will have to go on for some time before it can qualify as a serious issue. For example, if you’re a student and your exam session is approaching, then you might find yourself struggling to fall asleep due to stress.
You may be extremely sensitive to sounds, voices, light, certain smells, touch, and so on. You may even find people irritating.
This may result in decline in personal care and overall hygiene, lack of initiative, lack of a desire to socialize and participate in activities that you used to find fulfilling in the past. Lack of energy is also very common.
A feeling of disconnection
You may feel alienated from your family, loved ones, significant other, and so on, without fully being able to explain it. You feel like nobody understands you, and no one can relate to what you’re going through. Sometimes people even feel others judge them for their weird behavior, although that’s not always the case.
You could be happy and laughing one minute, and then become angry and start crying uncontrollably the next. When such emotions can’t really be explained (such as the PMS example we gave above), and they last for some time, then they definitely shouldn’t be ignored. Additionally, you may struggle to control your emotions.
Problems with concentration
You might struggle to concentrate and stay focused, and you might even have incoherent thoughts and be unable to engage in conversations properly. Also, going to work and finishing your tasks might suddenly become overwhelming; many people struggle with making decisions too. Some people may start talking more, and they may be jumping between topics and ideas.
Of course, sometimes there are much more severe signs - such as suicidal thoughts, self-harm (or harming others). If that is the case, then it’s crucial to contact a mental health professional as soon as possible.
What should you not say to a mentally ill person?
Communicating with a mentally ill person isn’t always easy. In fact, saying the wrong thing can not only aggravate that person’s mental health, but it may cause them to completely close off, or worse - harm themselves.
So, here’s a list (which is by no means an exhaustive one) with what not to say to a mentally ill person:
- “It's all in your head.”
- “It can’t be that bad.”
- “You’re exaggerating.”
- “Things could be worse.” or “Others have it worse.”
- “Snap out of it.”
- “But you look(ed) happy!”
- “Try to think positive and things will be better.”
- “Try to focus on the good stuff.”
- “You don’t have depression - you’re just sad.”
- “Why are you sad? You have no reason to feel that way.”
- “I know how you feel. I had a panic attack when I saw my ex with his new girlfriend!”
- “Why are you (not) on medication?”
- “You wouldn't feel this way if….”
- “Can you behave more normally?”
- “Cheer up, it’s not a big deal.”
- “You’re just looking for attention.”
- “Why are you acting like crazy?”
- “Just don’t worry about it.”
- “But you look fine to me.”
- “Why do you need therapy?”
- “I went through the exact same thing when…..”
- “But you have so much to be thankful for.”
- “Things will be better in the morning.”
Instead, try saying:
- “I’m here if you want to talk.”
- “How can I help?”
- “I’m so proud of the progress you’re making.”
- “Thank you for telling me.”
- “I’m here for you, you’re not alone in this.”
- “You matter to me.”
- “I love you.”
- “I support you.”
- “You’re so brave.”
- “I can’t even imagine how difficult this is for you, but you’re doing great!”
- “You got this.”
What are some mental illnesses?
There are many discussions among mental health experts as to what classifies as a mental illness, and what is a disorder. Then there are further classifications such as psychological disorders, neurodevelopmental disorders, stress-related disorders, dissociative disorders, and so on.
That said, we won’t be focusing on such sub divisions and classifications. Instead, we’ll outline the most common mental disorders people struggle with:
- bipolar disorder;
- schizophrenia and other psychoses;
- attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD);
- avoidant personality disorder;
- anxiety disorder;
- binge eating disorder;
- bulimia nervosa;
- cognitive disorder;
- hoarding disorder;
- narcissistic personality disorder;
- night eating syndrome;
- obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD);
- passive-aggressive personality disorder;
- postpartum depression;
- sleepwalking disorder;
- post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD);
- sleep paralysis;
- Stockholm syndrome;
- learning disorder;
- fugue state.
Suggestions for Further Reading
If you’re dealing with a mental issue, you’re stressed out, and/or negative thoughts are eating you up from the inside, the last thing you probably want to hear is to read a book.
Yet, sometimes that may be just the remedy we need. And when we say remedy, we truly refer to it as a cure. For instance, consider the following reading benefits:
- Reading strengthens your brain;
- It increases your ability to empathize;
- Reading helps prevent age-related cognitive decline;
- It reduces stress;
- It alleviates symptoms of depression;
- Reading may even help you live longer.
It seems reading is the magic pill that can wash away some of your troubles and worries. And while it may not solve all your issues, it can definitely ease the pain, and put you in a better place emotionally.
Here’s our contribution:
- Mental Health Workbook: 6 Books in 1: The Attachment Theory, Abandonment Anxiety, Depression in Relationships, Addiction Recovery, Complex PTSD, Trauma, CBT Therapy, EMDR and Somatic Psychotherapy, by Emily Attached, Gino Mackesy, and Marzia Fernandez
- The Unapologetic Guide to Black Mental Health: Navigate an Unequal System, Learn Tools for Emotional Wellness, and Get the Help you Deserve, by Rheeda Walker
- The End of Mental Illness: How Neuroscience Is Transforming Psychiatry and Helping Prevent or Reverse Mood and Anxiety Disorders, ADHD, Addictions, PTSD, Psychosis, Personality Disorders, and More, by Dr. Daniel G. Amen
- Practicing Mindfulness: 75 Essential Meditations to Reduce Stress, Improve Mental Health, and Find Peace in the Everyday, by Matthew Sockolov
- The Self-Love Workbook: A Life-Changing Guide to Boost Self-Esteem, Recognize Your Worth and Find Genuine Happiness, by Shainna Ali
- A Year of Positive Thinking: Daily Inspiration, Wisdom, and Courage, by Cyndie Spiegel
- The Mind-Gut Connection: How the Hidden Conversation Within Our Bodies Impacts Our Mood, Our Choices, and Our Overall Health, by Emeran Mayer
- Change Your Brain, Change Your Life (Revised and Expanded): The Breakthrough Program for Conquering Anxiety, Depression, Obsessiveness, Lack of Focus, Anger, and Memory Problems, by Daniel G. Amen
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Made Simple: 10 Strategies for Managing Anxiety, Depression, Anger, Panic and Worry, by Seth J. Gillihan
- Declutter Your Mind: How to Stop Worrying, Relieve Anxiety, and Eliminate Negative Thinking, by Barrie Davenport and S.J. Scott
- The Self Care Prescription: Powerful Solutions to Manage Stress, Reduce Anxiety & Increase Well-being, by Robyn L. Gobin
- Make Your Bed: Small things that can change your life and maybe the world, by William H. McRaven
All in all, mental wealth is a delicate subject. But that’s why it’s so important to discuss and bring it out in the open, rather than sweep it under the carpet. Talking about mental wealth and mental health reduces the stigma surrounding it and encourages people to get help.
Indeed, there’s an increased interest in mental wealth matters, both by experts and individuals looking for tools for coping in a healthier way. Experts want to help - people need to be helped.
That’s why we prepared a course on mental wealth - to help further educate people and give them the chance to learn about serious issues, how they may affect their lives or the lives of their loved ones, but also to destigmatize the subject of mental health.
Our article gave you an intro to the topic, but our course goes much deeper. We cover the following subjects at length:
- how the brain works, different areas of the brain, and the anatomy of signal processing;
- expectations and beliefs;
- the neuroscience of stress;
- models of depression and what you can do;
- neuroplasticity and the connection between the mind and the body;
- stress response and coping mechanisms;
- learned optimism vs learned helplessness, and so much more!
Ready to work on enriching your mental wealth?
Early Bird Signup
Signup for early bird access, exclusive discounts &
more when we launch new course.