Yorkshire Times
A Voice of the Free Press
Dr Mark Rackley
Psychologist and Mental Health Expert
12:00 AM 18th May 2024

Mental Health Awareness: Why It’s Everyone’s Business

Image by WOKANDAPIX from Pixabay
Image by WOKANDAPIX from Pixabay
May 13th – May 19th is Mental Health Awareness Week, in my job as a psychologist, every week is mental health awareness week as I get to talk about mental health for a living. It’s great that we have one week a year devoted to focusing on our mental health, however it can’t just be a conversation that is had 7 out of 365 days, as mental health challenges happen to people every moment of every day. What exactly is mental health and why should you care about it?

According to The World Health Organization (WHO), ‘mental health is a state of mental well-being that enables people to cope with the stresses of life, realize their abilities, learn well and work well, and contribute to their community.’ Mental health therefore is no different to your physical health, if it’s good you will feel good, if it’s bad you will feel unwell. As mentioned by the WHO, if your mental health is fine, you will cope well with stress, enjoy life, and work well, if it’s poor, life can get overwhelming, you’re not coping with or enjoying life and you maybe unfit for work. So good mental health is linked to the quality of your life and that is one reason you should care about it.

Why do we become unwell with our mental health? There is not one simple answer to that question, as there are too many variables that can impact the quality of our mental health. As a psychologist, I use the Biopsychosocial Model, to help me understand the mental health difficulties of my patients.

The three interconnecting and influencing areas are
1) Biological: what is the family history, and do they have an underlying health condition?
2) Psychological: what are they like psychologically, how do they deal with their feelings, what are their coping strategies and how are they in relationships?
3) Social: what type of environment were they raised in, have they experienced trauma in their life, such as abuse or death of a loved one? Using this model gives you a good understanding of some of the factors that have impacted the mental health of the patient and how to support their recovery.

The brain is the most important and complex organ that we have in our body. The brain keeps the rest of the body alive and is the ‘control centre’ for all the functions that the body makes. However, it is also responsible for helping you process information, generates thoughts and feelings, and creates memories. It does not just keep your body alive; it also helps you make sense of the world around you, form relationships, create likes and dislikes and choose what type of life you want to live. Your brain is a big deal, yet it can be the organ in the body that can be the most overlooked and neglected, which sadly can lead to us having poor mental health.

Keeping our brain healthy is a key way to having good mental health. No surprises, your brain is not going to function well if you deprive it of sleep, drink too much alcohol, give it mind altering recreational drugs to deal with or are a person who regularly loses their temper and has anger issues. Living life this way can cause any number of mental health difficulties such as depression and anxiety. Of course, keeping your brain healthy through quality sleep, regular exercise, a healthy diet, and good lifestyle choices, will assist you in having good mental health and of course a better quality of life.
Unfortunate events that we have no control over can create havoc and trauma in our life and leave us with poor mental health. Times like these can leave us feeling alone, isolated and without support. Supporting people with their mental health is one of the vital ways to help them to recover, that is why I have a job. But it’s not just mental health professionals that can be instrumental in offering support, we can all do this. It can be as simple as checking in with someone you know is going through a hard time, offering to go for a walk with them, have a coffee or just listen to and have a chat.

Sadly, poor mental health can mean people end up in hospital or in some cases it can end life. That’s why it is all our business, as anyone of us can be impacted by poor mental health, it does not discriminate. Don’t assume that someone else is doing alright or that other people are supporting them, take the initiative yourself as that can be an actual life-changer.

Dr Mark Rackley
Dr Mark Rackley
Listen to my podcast: I Have Issues, The Mental Health Podcast From Dr Mark Rackley (on all major podcast platforms)

For support with your mental health:
- Samaritans (116 123) operates a 24-hour service.
- Make an urgent appointment with your GP.
- Go to your nearest Accident and Emergency (A&E) department.
- Visit All areas have local mental health crisis lines where urgent help, possibly at home, can also be arranged