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Three approaches to managing your mental health

MENTAL HEALTH: There are many different approaches to maintaining a healthy mind

MANY PEOPLE still find it difficult to talk about mental health and when it comes to seeking help, black people face increased challenges. As part of Mental Health Awareness week, we take a look at some of the ways that we can all take better care of our mental health.

Doreen Boateng-Amponsah, a mental health social worker and BLAM charity member, shared some advice on different ways to approach managing your mental health.

Self-care is not selfish
Self-care is something that’s become a buzzword on the internet but it can mean very different things to different people. Boateng-Amponsah, who is currently studying MSc in cultural and global mental health, explains how self-care can be adopted as a method in the early stages of managing some mental health conditions.

“It is often difficult to speak up and open up about mental health issues due to stigmatisation or a lack of understanding and empathy. Thus, one may initially try to manage their mental health issues independently through self-help and self-care strategies. This may involve online guided self-help therapy (e.g. CBT), meditation (e.g. mindfulness), mood diaries, nature walks and exercise. Or it may involve the inclusion of activities and hobbies that you once enjoyed,” Boateng-Amponsah says.

PICTURED: Doreen Boateng-Amponsah

A problem shared
Talking on the phone, meeting up face-to-face, writing an email or handwritten message...whatever way you feel most comfortable communicating with someone is up to you.

Boateng-Amponsah says that self-help alone can be enough for some at first but sharing your concerns with someone else is also helpful.

“Although self-help may be appropriate during less severe stages of mental illnesses; often a point may come where there is not enough motivation and drive to implement such strategies. In this case, I would recommend opening up to a non-judgmental friend who has excellent listening skills and someone who you feel can offer both emotional and practical support.”

Seeking help from services
Depending on the severity of your mental health issue and your preferred method of dealing with it, you may find that accessing support from established mental health organisations or service providers is necessary. Thankfully, there are now a wide range of choices open to those who want look after their mental health. From fitness groups and art and music therapies to more traditional approaches, the right way is the one that works for you.

Here Boateng-Amponsah looks at some of the options available.

“Lastly, there are always services, professionals and individuals within the community who can help. Many mental health services, such as talking therapies, can be accessed through self-referrals. Additionally, self-help groups and recovery groups are a great way to connect with people who may be experiencing similar mental health issues. For those in crisis and in need of urgent support, the Samaritans offer a free 24-hour call service and you can always visit A&E or call NHS 111(not life-threatening) or 999.”

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