October marks mental health awareness month, with World Mental Health Day falling on October 10th.
The World Health Organisation have issued a campaign surrounding the theme that “mental health is a universal human right,” thus opening a conversation around the integral role mental health plays in overall health and wellbeing, whilst also focusing on the increasing threat mental health conditions are having on society’s young people.
Many issues are being brought to the forefront of their campaign; the right for all to be able to access quality mental health care, the stigma and discrimination surrounding mental health and the importance of recognising mental health as a human right. In the words of W.H.O, “recognising mental health as a universal human right empowers people to stand up for their rights – and for those around them”.
October is a time usually given to unwind and reflect on the busy summer months. The change in seasons and weather also hint at a need to relax and take time for yourself.
However, the transition period to winter can be a challenging time for those who struggle with their mental health. Longer nights and shorter days leave many of our moods low mixed with feelings of isolation and restlessness.
According to Mental Health Ireland (One of Ireland’s leading mental health charities), wellbeing is an important factor when it comes to our mental health. The five ways to wellbeing have been identified as connect, be active, take notice, keep learning and give.
Connect: Make time each day to connect with people around you. This can be family, friends, colleagues etc. Connection can be made at school, home or with a group. Some ways to stay connected might be joining a society.
Societies like ArtSoc host events such as sip and paint night which allow you to meet likeminded people. Events like these can be a crucial outlet during the lead up to exams and a great way to take a well needed break from study or general stresses.
There are also plenty of ways to connect with others outside of the University. How about a cup of tea alongside a chat with a friend? A coffee date? Remember a lot of establishments also offer student discounts.
Be Active: Activity no matter the physical level has been proven to be beneficial to a person’s wellbeing and mental health. The university offers many sport clubs if you are interested in meeting in a group as well as the opportunity to take part in activities available at a low cost such as yoga, pilates and dance.
Galway also offers activities such as bowling, swimming and the museum… entry is free! Some people might find benefit going to their local gym. For others, getting out for a walk while listening to music is sufficient.
Take Notice: Although it can be difficult sometimes, try take notice of the world around you and what you are feeling. Don’t ignore your body and seek further support if you feel you need it. It may be cliché but try to find the beautiful things in life and attempt to stay present in the moment as much as possible. Sometimes the little things make a big difference!
Keep Learning: Learning something new or setting a goal increases confidence and sense of purpose improving wellbeing and mental health. Try something new, learn a language class such as Gaeilge, pick up an old hobby that is lost in the past. For a challenge, try to learn one new recipe every week for the month of October!
Give: Helping others has been linked to happiness. It allows us to feel connected to the world and can feel extremely rewarding. Think about volunteering, doing a small act of kindness for a stranger or regularly donating to a charity.