It’s important to keep our health in check especially now that we are dealing with a pandemic. However, it’s important to note that your mental health matters just as much as your physical health. Don’t leave it unattended.
Mental health is a serious issue that affects all ages and people from all walks of life. It is estimated that approximately 450 million people worldwide experience mental illness and disorders, rendering them vulnerable to physical and emotional harm. According to the Singapore Mental Health Study (SMHS), about one in 7 Singaporeans have experienced a mood or anxiety disorder at some point in their lives.
The Covid-19 pandemic has unfortunately added an extra fold of stress and anxiety. With fear and uncertainty creeping over every aspect of life, it is important to know how to cope with mental health amid this crisis and how to overcome it. At the same time, Covid-19 has also given us the opportunity to reassess what is truly important in our lives.
What is Mental health?
Mental health in a medical standpoint refers to cognitive, behavioural, and emotional wellbeing. It affects our emotions, how we feel and how we interact with one another. An individual with good mental health is able to cope with the everyday challenges of life, develop positive relationships between loved ones, and is able to find joy in living life. There are several factors that contribute to mental illness and a genetic predisposition is one of them. There are several social factors that contribute to mental illness and here are some of them.
What are the social factors that contribute to mental illness?
One of the key social factors that contribute to mental illness is the stigmatisation of mental disorders. A lack of awareness of the causes, symptoms and treatment options of mental disorders in the general public and a lack of interpersonal contact with affected individuals will result in increased stigmatisation and discrimination of individuals suffering from mental illness.
An important point to note is that mental health and mental illness lie on a continuum. This means it is difficult to categorise any individual to a state of complete mental wellbeing. It is perfectly normal for a healthy individual to have an episode of a mental breakdown or even a psychotic episode such as a hallucination without being labelled as an individual suffering from a mental disorder.
This makes mental illness similar to other diseases that lie on a continuum such as heart disease and cancer where individuals can have genetic factors and lifestyle factors that either increase or reduce the chances of the illness occurring. Studies have shown that 75% to 90% of people who have suffered an episode of mental illness can recover completely and are able to lead a normal and fulfilling life. Therefore, only a small percentage of people suffer from long term mental illnesses that are debilitating.
Other than the points stated above, some of the other social factors that contribute to mental illness are our modern, urbanised lifestyle, immigration and poverty that result in lack of resources. Recreational drug use is a significant contributor to mental illness. Fortunately, the drug laws in Singapore are very strict.
5 ways to cope with mental health during Covid-19
1) Stay in touch with your loved ones
1) Stay in touch with your
Although it may sound obvious, not many people would muster the courage to talk to their loved ones when they are suffering from mental health issues. It’s important to have social interactions with your loved ones and express your fears and worries to them. They might not have the solution to your problems, but at least they would listen and try to understand your situation. By keeping constant contact with them, you effectively put your worries to rest and reduce the amount of anxiety and stress within yourself as well.
2) Practice mindfulness and seek spirituality
2) Practice mindfulness and
Take a few minutes to practice slow breathing exercises. Meditation and prayer help us to remember the existence of a higher power and keeps our egos in check. Remind yourself that the success you have seen is not your efforts alone. Likewise, don’t be too hard on yourself when you fail. Learn from your mistakes and move on. Be a seeker of spirituality and whichever faith you belong to, there are pearls of wisdom and life lessons to be learnt in scriptures and holy books. However, these can only be understood when we actually take time to study religion and spirituality. Unfortunately, most of us become too focused on the rituals and forget the lessons behind the rituals.
Regardless of whether you belong to a formalised religion or not, the practice of mindfulness, meditation and prayer will help you cope. Always believe that when something negative occurs, there will always be something positive to uplift you.
3) Limit the amount of exposure to news
3) Limit the amount
of exposure to news
It is good that we keep ourselves informed. However, too much negative information from all forms of media can not only heighten fears of the virus but also spread misinformation. It is advisable to limit the amount of time spent on social media as it may expose us to false rumours and misinformation. The dilemma of choosing who to believe and having to evaluate whether the information is trustworthy can take a toll on our mental health. Therefore, it is recommended that we keep up with the latest news from reliable and accurate sources only, such as the government officials or the World Health Organization.
4) Practice gratitude
4) Practice gratitude
The many changes that have occurred as a result of Covid-19 will be a cause for stress and anxiety for many. Some of our patients and friends who are in the entertainment industry, tourism and other business owners have seen massive changes in their business models but they have taken it in their stride and have adapted well. It is important for all of us to take a step back and be grateful for what we have regardless of our current circumstances and be grateful for all the things that we have been blessed with.
5) Stay Active
5) Stay Active
Exercising and eating right keeps the mind and body healthy. Exercise helps to regulate our hormones such as cortisol which is related to stress. Exercise also releases endorphins that make us feel good and with just 20 to 40 minutes of physical activity, we can improve our anxiety levels and mood for several hours. Whether it is a jog at the park, hitting the gym or joining a yoga class—they all have benefits to mental health and wellbeing.
Where to seek help?
We understand how it can be overwhelming at times so here are some of the numbers that you can refer to whenever you are having trouble coping with mental health or in need of professional help.
- 1. National Care Hotline: 1800-202-6868 (available from 8am to 12am daily)
- 2. Institute of Mental Health’s Mental Health Helpline: 6389-2222 (24 hours)
- 3. Samaritans of Singapore: 1800-221-4444 (24 hours)
- 4. Silver Ribbon Singapore: 6385-3714 (Mon to Fri 9am-5pm)
- 5. TOUCHline (Counselling): 1800 377 2252 (Mon to Fri 9am-6pm)
Do note that your dental health is closely related to your mental wellbeing as well, so don’t forget to keep your teeth and gums healthy during this challenging time.
If you’re due for a dental checkup, you can book an appointment with us here!
We know that you have plenty of questions that need answering. Don’t be shy and let us know! We are more than happy to answer any questions pertaining to your dental health.
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