Mental Health Best Practices: Integrating Mental Health into Primary Care
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Mental Health Best Practices: Integrating Mental Health into Primary Care
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Overview

Human minds are tricky to study. And it’s amazing to think of how much we rely on being mentally healthy and satiated to perform our everyday tasks, process our thoughts, plan schedules, arrange meetings, and make all kinds of other important decisions.

In the last decade or so, the field of psychology and neurobiology has made some substantial progress in studying how the human brain works to inspire better healthcare facilities in regards to mental health and well-being.

What has helped spread this conversation further is the coronavirus pandemic which has caused intense psychological harm to millions, on top of its more obvious symptoms. In this article, we are going to be exploring some of the best practices to adopt to protect your mental wellness.

Understanding Mental Health

In order to solve a problem, we must first define it. According to World Health Organization (WHO), 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.”

It further emphasizes that 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.”

Essentially, mental health is the well-being of the mind. This includes the thoughts, feelings, judgements, opinions, and reflections associated with an individual’s perception of themself. Being mentally healthy means being free from negative self-image and having a positive outlook on one’s own abilities and sense of self.

What is Primary Health Care?

Primary health care rests on 5 pillars:

  1. Essential health care
  2. Universal accessibility
  3. Easy and fast availability
  4. Based on the needs of the masses
  5. Decentralized application

To put it simply, primary health care is the most basic and essential medical attention and support that is provided to individuals and families in the community. It is based on the collective needs of the population.

Commercial adoption of primary health care requires active participation of the community to ensure its decentralized supply and universal accessibility. Integrating mental health services in primary health care involves:

  1. diagnosing and treating people with mental disorders
  2. putting strategies in place to prevent mental disorders
  3. ensuring application of key psychosocial and behavioral science skills by primary health care workers

This includes instilling the skill of interviewing, counseling and interpersonal skills in their day-to-day work in order to improve overall health outcomes in primary health care.

Best Mental Health Practices

1. Seek professional help

Seeking professional help from a therapist is a great way to know more about your mental health troubles, how they affect you, their causes, and learn techniques to help deal with them in a proper manner. A trained therapist can introduce you to certain coping mechanisms that help relieve pain.

If in case you happen to have clinical mental illnesses such as depression, schizophrenia, PTSD or eating disorders, a psychiatrist can help prescribe medication that can directly help alter your mental state and help you cope.

2. Make meditation a habit

Physiatrists and therapists often suggest their patients to make meditation a habit to inculcate a practice of repeated calmness in everyday life. In fact, studies have shown that people who meditate tend to sleep better, have better relationships, are more resilient and happier.

Therapists can even recommend their patients certain meditation apps like the Black Lotus meditation app for mental health and mindfulness. Black Lotus is based on behavioural science and promotes the use of meditation as a tool to achieve tangible goals in one’s life. Through its R.A.R.E. framework, it makes meditation easy for beginners and helps develop healthy long-term habits, be kinder and happier.

3. Set realistic goals

Overwhelming yourself with unrealistic, unachievable goals can lead to burnout, eventually leading to loss of motivation, and feelings of guilt and shame. Instead, set realistic goals to ensure that you don’t get burned out.

It’s important to stay consistent towards achieving these goals to regularly exercise your mind in a positive direction. But keep in mind to also allow yourself some room to take breaks and recharge from time to time.

4. Maintain a healthy diet

The phrase “you are what you eat” holds just as much truth for mental health as it does for physical health. Different types of nutrients trigger different types of responses in the brain. Based on the diet consumed, the brain releases signals to the body to release certain hormones. A lot of studies have shown that a healthy diet can help with anxiety and depression.

Healthy food also helps increase focus and keeps away frequent mood fluctuations. Certain foods with high omega-3 fatty acids help in boosting brain functions. Maintaining a balanced healthy diet helps in the production of a hormone called serotonin which controls your moods and happiness.

5. Be physically active

Exercise is one of the first suggestions that is given when you seek professional help, and rightfully so, due to its numerous benefits. Exercise helps reduce the severity of mental illnesses like depression, anxiety and insomnia, and also significantly reduce stress levels.

Including exercise in your daily routine helps in reducing fatigue, improves mood, and helps you concentrate better. We highly recommend a physically active lifestyle if you wish to see a positive change in your mental wellbeing.

Thank you for reading this article. We hope this guide was able to give you some insight on the importance of mental health, why it needs to be integrated into our primary health care system, and also some practices that can help improve your mental well-being.

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mahesh@highpurple.com
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