Although most of us agree that it is essential to support someone who may be experiencing a mental health issue, as the saying goes, you can’t pour from an empty cup. Doing so may result in higher stress levels, burnout or increased risk of mental illness. If we are to be capable of supporting friends, family or colleagues, we need to care for our own mental health first.
When others rely on us for support, the concept of self-care can seem selfish. Self-care is about protecting your mental health, wellbeing and happiness whereas selfishness involves a lack of consideration for others.
The mental health barometer
How do we recognise the early warning signs that our own mental health may need attention? One way is to use the below points as a barometer to assess the quality of our mental health:
1. How we feel, think, and behave
2. How we cope with the ups and downs of everyday life
3. How we feel about ourselves and our life
4. How we see ourselves and our future
5. How we deal with negative things that happen in our life
6. Our self-esteem or confidence
7. How stress affects us
For example, how we feel, think and behave can indicate whether we are experiencing good mental health. Changes to these factors can also be a sign that our mental health may need additional support.
Using the barometer can help us to become more self-aware about the fluctuating state of our mental health. It may also help us to reflect on and learn from past situations and consider how we may feel and cope with future stressors and life events.
Risk factors for poor mental health
Factors that may negatively impact our mental health and causes changes to our barometer include:
Understanding when our mental health and wellbeing are at risk means that we can intervene early and take steps to support ourselves. This includes asking for help from friends, family, colleagues and professionals such as GPs.
Looking after our own mental health sets a positive example to others and means that we are better placed to give support to friends, family and colleagues.
Mind the Charity