The Importance of Mental Health Awareness

Group therapy session for spreading mental health awareness.

It is impossible to talk about overall wellness without bringing up mental health. 

In Malaysia, nearly 29% of adults suffer from some type of mental health issue. Yet, many hesitate to seek help due to stigma.  

Moreover, wellness does not only refer to a mental illness. Instead, there are several different types of wellness, including emotional, physical, social, and psychological.  

Our work, personal life, relationships, emotional health, and physical health can affect how we feel and live every day. Our wellness can also affect how we perform at school or work and how we maintain our relationships. 

The discussion around mental health awareness has never been as important as, say, physical health or work-life balance. However, all these elements combined can improve the overall quality of life. 

Learn what mental health awareness means, how it can help you, and what you can do to promote awareness in your circle.  

What Is Mental Health Awareness?

Mental health awareness is about spreading and gaining knowledge about how our mental health (eg thoughts and feelings) can affect our wellness.  

Awareness helps us see that it is okay to be honest about our feelings and that there is no shame in seeking help when we need it.  

The idea encourages everyone to: 

  • Learn more about mental health 
  • Recognise the signs that they or someone they love may be struggling 
  • Understand that counselling can be a great option for coping and healing  

Spreading awareness is also about making sure that people don’t feel alone, different, or ashamed when they face mental health issues.  

By having conversations about mental health, we can remove the fear and shame associated with it.  

When we become aware of mental health, we may become better friends, family members, professionals, leaders, and community members! 

How Can Mental Health Awareness Help?

Mental health awareness can help promote counselling in Malaysia and medical treatment.  

Having these conversations can be hard initially, but they play an essential role in changing the way our society thinks about mental illness.  

Most people seek help only when their condition is ‘severe’—that is, when it affects their personal life, relationships, or work performance.  

However, spreading awareness about mental health could ensure that we recognise the signs of illness early on and prevent them before they get worse.  

Below are four important ways mental health awareness can help.

Helps Understand Oneself

Mental health awareness can help you identify signs of your own mental well-being.  

For example, if you have been feeling sad for days without a reason, you may reflect on other signs based on your knowledge. You may think about your appetite, mood swings, social energy, your motivation to work etc.  

Without enough awareness, however, the chances of you neglecting your mental health can increase.  

Your awareness can also empower you to take control of your life. If you feel sad, you may quickly seek help from a counsellor to cope better.  

Similarly, being aware also means being more self-aware.  

If you doomscroll on social media (eg scroll endlessly and without intention), you may notice that you feel anxious or FOMO due to your current behaviour. Your awareness would then help you stop the activity and take a break.  

Starts Conversations

Mental health awareness can start hard and important conversations.  

Awareness gives people more space and the safety to talk about their problems without fear of judgment.  

Moreover, when more people start talking about their issues, those suffering alone may also feel hopeful. This, in turn, makes it easier for loved ones to reach out to each other.  

To start conversations, try to notice if your friend or any family member is struggling.  

Offer them a listening ear and show them that you care about their feelings. Your unconditional support could help promote mental wellness and express your love at the same time.  

Women wearing hijab and talking about mental health awareness.

Promotes Mental Wellness

We may all think that mental health is only related to mental illness.  

However, what about struggling to overcome a specific problem? Having issues with making friends? Moving to a new country without enough social support? Being part of an oppressed group, yet having no one to show up for you?  

Mental wellness has several different elements associated with it. For example, a person may be mentally fit yet have problems with issues such as bullying or discrimination.  

Hence, regardless of their mental wellness, everyone may benefit from seeking support. 

Online counselling could help you improve confidence, gain clarity about your life purpose, think more positively, and so on.  

With strong and consistent mental health awareness in society, one could comfortably seek help for daily life issues.  

Tips to Promote Mental Health Awareness

How can we, at an individual level, promote mental health awareness?  

A major part of it is speaking up about mental health openly and honestly. 

Below are some tips and ideas to spread awareness about mental health responsibly: 

1. Speak Up

How often do you speak up for yourself?  

Do you ask for rest when you need it?  

Do you prioritise self-care before work?  

It is common to take a day off when we have the flu or are sick. However, we may not ask for leave when we are emotionally drained.  

If you are having a bad mental health day, try to speak up for yourself and get the rest you deserve.  

When you are more honest about your needs, you may also inspire others to do the same! 

2. Learn More

Take some time out every week to learn more about mental health.  

Try to understand the symptoms of some of the most common disorders, like signs of burnout, maladaptive behaviour, anxiety etc.  

Learn how to take care of yourself when you experience mood swings or anxiety. Self-care tips for mental health is a great place to start.  

Keep an eye on your signs, especially when you feel irritated or angry frequently. Talk to your loved ones about your observations. Find posts to read more about what you are going through.  

The more you talk about your signs, the better you may understand them! 

3. Talk to a Counsellor

When you need more support than self-care tools, reach out to your Malaysian counsellor.  

Note: There is no rule about when to seek help. You can book a session right after you notice the signs, before you observe any exhaustion, or later. The important thing is to prioritise your mental health as early as possible.  

Your counsellor may use tools like solution-focused therapy to help you identify and solve your problem.  

If you are comfortable, talk to your friends and family about how therapy helped you and why you continue to seek help.  

Remember, showing up for yourself is one of the most important ways to promote mental health awareness! 

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