It’s that time of year again when we wave goodbye to one year and usher another one in. That means it’s also resolution time.
The problem with New Year’s resolutions is the failure rate. According to U.S. News, 80 percent of resolutions fail by mid-February. Failure has become so common that most of us probably expect to fail, especially if we haven’t seen our resolutions through in the past.
The most popular resolutions, according to a poll by YouGov involving 1200 adults, is a three-way tie at 37 percent each:
- Eat healthier
- Save more money
- Exercise more
This shouldn’t come as a surprise, as most of us value money and health. Though it could be argued that in 2019 our mental health is just as important as our physical — and maybe even more so, as it also contributes to our physical health. Perhaps more surprising is a recent survey which shows that anxiety and depression are cited as the number one obstacle preventing women from achieving their fitness or wellness resolution.
In this article, we’re going to take a look at the type of mental health challenges families are facing, the importance of mental health in families, and how we can improve our mental health and our overall well-being.
Mental Health Challenges for Families
For some reason, when people are asked about their New Year’s resolutions, the issue of mental health rarely comes up among the most popular resolutions. However, when asked directly about mental health goals, you get some interesting answers.
Herald Mail Media did just that ― asking followers on Twitter what their mental health goals were for 2019. The five most common answers were:
- Seek help. A number of people responded by saying they were considering counseling. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the sooner someone seeks help, the more likely the outcome will be a positive one.
- Be grateful. Most of us probably focus more on what’s wrong than what’s right. This is a big mistake. Being grateful for what we have can have physical as well as psychological and interpersonal benefits.
- Ask for help. It’s important to reach out to family members. Tell them if you’re having problems. If they don’t know, they won’t be able to help you.
- Take a break. You deserve a break, as in decompression time. Life can be stressful. Turn off your phone for a while, take a walk in the park, or do some deep-breathing exercises. Whatever you can do to unwind should help.
- Meditate. Many people on Twitter included meditation in their resolution plans for 2019. Meditation is a great tool to deal with stress and improve your mental wellbeing.
Mental health issues have a tremendous effect on family relationships. This trickle-down effect included unexplained weight loss, sleeplessness, anxiety, depression, anger, confusion, and guilt. Physical violence toward family members is also a concern, even though it’s less common. When one member of the family is going through something painful or traumatic, the entire family feels it and is affected by it.
Young children are especially vulnerable. Having a parent with a mental health issue is confusing for them, as they don’t understand why mom or dad is behaving a certain way.
Substance abuse often has negative familial effects, but it can also contribute to mental illness. The opioid crisis in the U.S. is of particular concern, as it’s become a problem that is on the rise, and it’s one that affects far more people than just the abuser.
Importance of Good Mental Health in Families
As already mentioned, mental illness has a way of affecting the entire family and contributing to even greater incidences of mental health issues within that family. This is why the best course of action will be prevention.
Children’s mental health begins with the parents. Mental health, unlike physical health, can be a difficult thing to diagnose or even notice, which is why parents should focus more on their own awareness. Mental health is a broad category that includes anxiety and depression, but also bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. For children, who are already going through many changes, these problems can be difficult to recognize.
Think of a child’s mental health issue like a weed trying to take root. The earlier you address it, the less likely it is to be a problem. This is especially important as the leading cause of death for people in the 15-to-24 age group is suicide.
Bullying is one area that parents should be aware of and concerned about, particularly as this now includes cyberbullying. How parents respond to their child is another area that warrants more awareness.
Young children want to please their parents and are always looking for clues to determine if that’s occurring. Making sure your child feels accepted and loved can have huge effects when it comes to his or her mental health.
According to Mental Health America, children need the following when it comes to mental health:
- Unconditional love from family
- Self-confidence and high self-esteem
- The opportunity to play with other children
- Encouraging teachers and supportive caretakers
- Safe and secure surroundings
- Appropriate guidance and discipline
The World Health Organization defines mental health as, “a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.”
That’s a broad definition and one that encompasses many areas. It’s also a definition that makes good mental health sound vital to happiness.
How to Improve Mental Health
The first step will always be awareness. Look at the definitions of mental health in this article and ask yourself if you or your child have emotional responses that are concerning or can deal with the normal stresses of life in more healthy ways.
Mental Health America has 31 tips on how to improve your mental health, from a good cup of coffee in the morning to setting aside some time for coloring. There’s likely not one thing that will contribute to better mental health. That’s why a comprehensive approach will probably yield better results.
However, if your problems are more severe, it may be time to consider treatment options. This is going to be dependent on each person’s condition and on each person’s personality. Where some may benefit from a group setting, others may feel intimidated or nervous in that setting. Luckily there are numerous treatment options, including:
- Support groups
- Alternative approaches
- Art therapy
- Complementary medicine
The important thing is to find one you or your child are comfortable with and one that suits you as an individual, as one size rarely fits all.
Before making New Year’s resolutions, it helps to ask yourself a few questions first — namely, “what’s most important to me?” When phrased in that way, it’s hard to say that good mental health doesn’t make the cut.
Author Bio: Magnolia Potter is from the Pacific Northwest and writes from time to time. She prefers to cover a variety of topics and not just settle on one. When Magnolia’s not writing, you can find her outdoors or curled up with a good book. Chat with her on Twitter @MuggleMagnolia.
The opinions and views expressed in this guest blog do not necessarily reflect those of www.rtor.org or its sponsor, Laurel House, Inc. The author and www.rtor.org have no affiliations with any products or services mentioned in this article or linked to herein.