I’d like you to think about the last time you went to the dentist. When was it? A few months ago? Last year sometime? When was the last time you spoke about dental hygiene? Or bought a tube of toothpaste? Or flossed? And what would you do if you woke up tomorrow with agonising toothache, I wonder?
Now think about the last time you felt stressed or anxious or mentally exhausted or sad. Who did you talk to? Where did you seek help from? What did you do to improve things?
Do you see where I’m going with this?
In general, we’re pretty good at looking after our teeth but not always so good at looking after our mind. Unlike a smile, mental health isn’t something we wear on our face. It’s invisible, easy for us to mask and obscure from others – but just because we can’t see it, doesn’t make it any less important.
Mental wellbeing forms a crucial part of our overall health and should be treated with the same sensitivity, diligence and understanding as physical health. Yet, in spite of such substantial progress over the last few years, this still isn’t the case. Mental Health continues to be widely misunderstood and surrounded by stigma – and it’s precisely these barriers that continue to cause problems for people personally, socially and professionally.
Mental health isn’t something we can ignore.
It isn’t something we should feel ashamed of.
It isn’t a weakness.
Or a flaw.
Or a fad.
It’s a condition – a state of psychological and emotional wellbeing that affects all of us, all the time, to varying degrees, on an ever-changing continuum. It isn’t just about having (or not having) a mental illness, it’s much broader than that. It’s about being able to meet the ordinary demands of daily life and function in society with comfort, contentment and positivity. It’s a mindset which helps – not hinders – the undertaking of any of the challenges life can throw our way. And life can throw us many…
So it’s time we look after our mental health the same way we look after our dental health.
Let’s speak up without shame and listen without prejudice. Let’s recognise emotional pain as real pain. Understand the need behind the feeling. The cause behind the symptom. Seek help when we need it. Find support. Find professionals. Find treatment. Let’s make looking after our mental health part of our routine. Our daily routine. Whatever that looks like for YOU. Because, much like your teeth, your mind is completely, thoroughly, delicately, indefinitely and brilliantly unique. Look after it.