Ask most people about addressing mental health and they usually think of finding a therapist or making an appointment with a doctor for some anxiety medication. This would not be an example of good mental hygiene.
Although society, parents, teachers, doctors, media and advertisers have worked overtime to remind us to take care of our dental and physical health, proactive actions supporting our mental health are rarely mentioned.
We understand that we need to floss and brush our teeth, eat healthy, moisturize our skin, brighten our teeth, make our hair smooth and bouncy.
Of course, the sale of products to help us do these things is a commercial enterprise. There is little interest in promoting products for mental health. Perhaps this is not seen as commercially viable because self-love does not sell but playing up self-doubt and self-criticism provides a commercial opportunity.
This is where families and schools can step in and teach everyone how to obtain the best care for physical AND mental health. I am often bewildered when I ponder the inadequate social conditioning that we all are exposed to in our lives.
However, there are some efforts to change our thinking. I was very interested to see an essay by HRH the Duke of Cambridge on Father’s Day, entitled… “The Duke of Cambridge on Fatherhood and Mental Health”.
As an influential young father, such sentiment seems very promising.
Awareness of the concern regarding the lack of attention to our mental health was recently highlighted in a TED talk by psychologist Guy Winch.
As I listened to this interesting talk, I began to think about all potential mental health products, “Mental Floss” to remove thoughts that lead to decay, “Mind Brightener” to make us smile more, “Mood Conditioner” to let our hair down and relax and a few others.
Perhaps it was a bit goofy, but my thinking was that the world would be a better place if parents reminded their kids to meditate before running off to Tai Chi class, instead of brushing their teeth before ballet class.
One of the challenges with this idea is that mental hygiene requires planning, training and motivation. You cannot pop a pill or apply a cream.
If these concepts were instilled in children by families and schools and they had commercial potential, we would see more reports in the media and advertising campaigns to build demand for products supporting good mental hygiene.
In some cases, a product is not required. I included some ideas in my recent blog post about taking care of your self.
If the positive impact of simple everyday mental health practices were understood and prioritized, the world would be happier and healthier.
As a healthcare professional, I learned that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. I think that is true for both mental health and physical health. Is it time for you annual checkup (mental that is)?