Today is World Mental Health Day. On this occasion, we want to draw attention to the common myths that do not contribute to mental health, but are everyday, ubiquitous and harmful.
The myth that we must have a “good reason” not to feel happy
The myth that we have to have a “good reason” not to feel happy and that happiness is the norm we all have to reach is ubiquitous, we can almost say it is passed down generationally, from generation to generation. It is quite clear that these expectations are unrealistic and doomed in advance and it is very likely that they will be accompanied by a number of unpleasant emotions such as shame, guilt, feelings of inadequacy and the like.
When we feel sad, angry, frightened and hurt – it is as if we set a deadline in advance in which these emotions should disappear, as if it is inadmissible to be vulnerable, although we will declaratively advocate the expression of emotions.
We are all individual beings, with different experiences, experiences and consequently different sensitivity to the situations we face, and we really have the right to feel however we feel.
The myth that children should not be talked to about how they feel
Another deep-rooted myth is that children should not be talked about how they feel so as not to encourage them to feel even worse or to think about difficult experiences, as well as that they are too young to talk about it. Indeed, if children have difficulty describing how they feel, it means that they have not learned to name, perhaps not even recognize their emotions, but this does not mean that they do not feel.
Talking about feelings and expressing emotions in front of children in an appropriate way shows the child that the family environment is emotionally safe and that it is allowed to express emotions in it; shows him/her how he/she can regulate them; learns from parents and other loved ones how to deal with them successfully. These are one of the most useful knowledge and skills he will need later in life.
“How are you?” is one of the most important questions?
Just as we need to take care of ourselves and our physical health, we need to take care of our mental health and how we feel in the same way. Both pleasant and unpleasant emotions and thoughts are our signposts every day, telling us what we need, what we need too much, and in which direction we need to go – just like traffic signs on the road, emotions are signs on our personal journey. Although we may ignore or fail to spot one or two such “traffic signs” without major consequences, ignoring the third may put us in danger or we may go far from our destination, which was not our goal.
“How are you?” Is one of the most important questions, which we should ask with real interest not only to others but also to ourselves. In doing so, let us be gentle and supportive towards ourselves as we would be towards our best friend. We take care of ourselves, it is not a trait of selfishness but of responsibility.
Sometimes it’s important to listen as much as we can and tell ourselves and the child “Now you can do as much as you can, and that’s okay, you can’t do more than that.
Try to practice this with today’s World Mental Health Day, with the help of infographics that we bring as reminders of how we can take care of mental health in small steps every day.
Mental health care is taken step by step on a daily basis, these are usually not big and huge steps that we will find difficult to take. Life is sometimes an easy walk, sometimes a long marathon, and it’s important to have understanding and empathy for yourself. Seeking help when we need it is courage, and what kind.
By: Ana Raguž, MSc psychology and Krešimir Prijatelj, MSc psychology
Disclaimer: This is unofficial translation provided for information purposes. Zagreb Child and Youth Protection Center cannot be held legally responsible for any translation inaccuracy.