On October 10th, we came together to celebrate World Mental Health Day. This year, the World Foundation of Mental Health set a powerful theme: ‘Mental health is a universal human right.’ This theme reminds us that mental wellbeing is a fundamental right that should be accessible to all, irrespective of their background, beliefs, or social/economic status.
Understanding Human Rights
Human rights are universal, applying to every person on this planet, regardless of their origin, beliefs, or lifestyle choices. However, inequalities persist in the realm of mental health. Certain groups experience poorer mental health due to social disadvantages, and they often have limited access to suitable support.
Mental Health as a Universal Human Right
Mental health is not a privilege; it is a basic human right. Every individual, regardless of their circumstances, deserves the highest attainable standard of mental health. This includes protection from mental health risks, access to quality support, and the right to live independently and inclusively within their community. Good mental health is not just a luxury; it is essential for our overall wellbeing.
The Global Mental Health Challenge
Sadly, the reality is that one in eight people worldwide lives with a mental health condition. These conditions can impact physical health, relationships, overall wellbeing, and livelihoods. Alarming trends show that mental health challenges are increasingly affecting adolescents and young people, highlighting the urgency of addressing this issue.
Protecting Human Rights
It’s crucial to recognise that having a mental health condition should never lead to a denial of one’s human rights or exclusion from decisions about their health. Yet, around the world, individuals with mental health conditions continue to face human rights violations. Many are marginalised, discriminated against, or unable to access the care they need without violating their rights.
Inequalities in Mental Health
Some startling statistics highlight the disparities:
–> 1 in 4 individuals experiences depression, but only 1 in 6 seeks help from a GP.
–> Suicide remains a leading cause of death among young people.
–> Inequalities persist across ethnic groups, with Afro-Caribbean communities facing higher rates of PTSD and suicide risk.
–> Deaf individuals are twice as likely to experience mental health difficulties.
–> People with learning differences and long-term physical conditions often face co-occurring mental health challenges.
Protecting Mental Health on a Budget
Amid these challenges, it’s essential to prioritise mental health, even when on a budget. Here are some strategies that can help:
Physical Activity: Utilise free resources like public parks and green spaces with outdoor gym equipment. Walking in your local park or participating in free community events like Parkruns can be a great way to stay active.
Balance Exercises: Try simple balance exercises like the yoga ‘tree’ pose. It’s accessible and can improve balance and overall well-being.
Aerobic Workouts: Create your aerobic workout routine with lively music, incorporating dance or simple exercises like star jumps or skipping.
Use Household Items: Household items like canned goods can serve as makeshift weights for arm and shoulder exercises.
Online Fitness Videos: Explore free fitness videos on platforms like YouTube, offering a wide range of workouts you can do from home.
Nutrition: Prioritize a balanced diet with at least 5 portions of fruits and vegetables daily. This can significantly impact your mood and overall health.
Sleep Hygiene: Establish a sleep routine, relax before sleep, and consider keeping a sleep diary to improve sleep quality.
Mindfulness: Practice mindfulness techniques like deep breathing, introspection, and grounding exercises to enhance mental well-being.
Breaking the Cycle of Worry
Worrying about finances can have a detrimental impact on mental health, creating a vicious cycle. To gain control over your finances and mental well-being, consider:
Understanding Your Relationship with Money: Reflect on how you feel about spending and saving money and the emotions tied to financial decisions.
Identifying Triggers: Recognise the situations or events that lead to financial stress and work on managing them effectively.
There are several factors that can affect our financial wellbeing, and at times we may not realise how impactful they are. Below are some ways to manage your financial wellbeing if you feel like you’re struggling.
Support for Managing Overspending:
Share with a trusted friend or family member if you notice signs of overspending or mental health struggles.
Secure your cards by entrusting them to someone you trust or placing them in a less accessible location.
Avoid saving card details on websites to curb impulsive spending.
Delete apps that trigger overspending or encourage excessive purchases.
Limit social media time to reduce exposure to tempting advertisements.
Implement a delay tactic, like telling yourself, “I’ll buy this tomorrow if I still want it.”
Distract yourself with enjoyable alternatives.
Consider informing your bank about your mental health concerns to monitor unusual spending.
Some people find it beneficial to avoid credit cards entirely.
Financial Organisation Tips:
Ensure you claim all eligible financial support and benefits.
Gather important documents like letters, bank statements, payslips, bills, and receipts in one accessible place.
Regularly check your bank balance to track your spending and remaining funds.
Integrate money-related tasks into your routine, allocating dedicated time for bill payments, budgeting, and financial planning.
Have a backup plan for mood-related spending triggers.
Whenever possible, use cash instead of cards and only withdraw what you can afford.
Creating a Budget:
List essential monthly expenses such as rent, mortgage, utilities, and groceries.
Seek debt advice if you’re struggling to manage existing debts.
Explore the Government’s ‘breathing space’ scheme if you need relief from interest payments on debts.
Utilize bank accounts with separate savings pots to safeguard funds for critical expenses.
Set up direct debits for recurring bills to prevent them from accumulating.
If You Can’t Afford Necessities:
Remember that everyone has a right to essentials like food and housing.
Claim benefits to assist with living costs.
Visit a local food bank or consider using a community fridge for free food.
Check if you qualify for social care services.
Apply for a Disabled Facilities Grant if you need home adaptations due to a disability.
Contact your energy supplier to explore available assistance programs if you’re struggling to pay bills.
Mental health is a universal human right, accessible to everyone, regardless of their social status, beliefs, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or financial situation. It’s essential to acknowledge the challenges and inequalities in mental health while also highlighting practical strategies that anyone can implement to prioritise their wellbeing. By taking small steps, we can collectively work towards a world where mental health truly is a right for all.
It’s time to put our mental health first, treat people how we hope to be treated and support others when possible. Everyone’s mental health matters!