Experts present the best tips for good mental health
Leading experts have compiled a list of ways to stay mentally healthy.
Avoiding illegal drugs and debt as well as “putting pleasure first” were among the actions people can take to stay mentally fit, according to research compiled by the UK charity, Mental Health Foundation.
Spending time in parks and gardens can help, as can “staying curious about new experiences,” he found.
Research has suggested that people can also help maintain their mental health by staying physically fit and eating healthy.
The authors said the findings pointed to “life fundamentals that protect our mental health” and they criticized the concept of “miracle cures” purported to improve well-being that “take advantage of people’s vulnerability.”
The researchers wanted to find the best “preventative self-management actions” – or healthy behaviors – that people can adopt to help maintain good mental health.
They asked a team of 23 international experts to come up with a list of behaviors that can help people maintain good mental health.
The actions were then submitted to a group of nearly 1,500 people who have lived with a mental health problem who voted on the “most appropriate” actions people can take.
The list of behaviors, published in the American Journal of Health Promotion, included:
– Avoid illicit drugs
– Avoid unmanageable debts
– Improve the quantity and quality of sleep
– Learn to understand, regulate and manage your mood
– Focus on pleasure or have something to look forward to
– Spend time in green spaces
– Ask for help
– Stay curious and open to (new) experiences
– Have a healthy diet
– Help others, contribute to something bigger
– Practice a physical activity
– Practice gratitude and cultivate hope
– Strengthen social ties
– Support good parenting practices
The authors said the list “should be used in public messages and campaigns to protect and promote good mental health.”
Dr Antonis Kousoulis, Director of the Mental Health Foundation for England and Wales, said: “We know that the means to put this advice into practice is not readily available to everyone.
“For example, poverty, low education and isolation may mean that for some people it is not possible to avoid unmanageable debt.
“Now that we have this clear evidence, governments should take action that enables people to take better care of their own mental health.
“Our research shows that it’s the fundamentals of life that protect our mental health: our finances, our relationships and our experiences.
“Time and time again, we’ve seen a powerful wellness industry take advantage of people’s vulnerability to offer ‘miracle cures’ in return for improved wellness. Our evidence challenges the idea that this is what most people want.
“The majority of people in our study, looking back on their experiences of poor mental health, told us that getting support to avoid street drugs and unmanageable debt, sleep better, and regulate their emotions is what would have made the biggest difference to them. “