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How Can I Protect My Mental Health?

How Can I Protect My Mental Health?

“Catherine got a promotion at work this month and while the promotion comes with better pay, it also comes with more work pressures. She’s struggling and finding it hard to cope. Her supervisor suggested a visit to the organization’s psychologist in order to find better ways to cope and protect her mental health.” 

In the field of mental health, protective factors are elements or conditions that reduce the risk of developing mental health disorders or help individuals cope when faced with adversity and stress. These factors play a crucial role in promoting resilience, enhancing well-being, and fostering psychological health. Understanding and putting these protective factors in place are essential for maintaining mental wellness in the face of life's challenges.  

Here are some ways you can protect your mental health. 

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Building Strong Social Support 

Social support refers to the network of relationships and interpersonal connections that provide a person with emotional, social, and physical assistance. Your support system could include friends, family, spiritual leaders, peers/colleagues, and community resources such as a primary health officer, social workers, and psychologists. A social support system can buffer against stress, reduce feelings of loneliness, and foster a sense of belonging. Social support also provides opportunities for emotional expression and problem-solving, which can enhance coping skills. 

Developing Healthy Coping Skills 

Coping skills refer to the adaptive strategies that individuals use to manage stress, regulate emotions, and navigate challenging situations. Healthy coping mechanisms such as mindfulness, problem-solving, seeking social support, and engaging in physical activity can help you maintain psychological well-being and build resilience while reducing the risk of mental health problems. Effective coping skills also help individuals to respond constructively to stressors. 

Positive Self-Esteem and Self-Efficacy 

Self-esteem refers to a person’s subjective evaluation of their worth and capabilities, while self-efficacy pertains to beliefs in one's ability to achieve goals and overcome challenges. 

High self-esteem and self-efficacy serve as protective mental health factors by promoting confidence, optimism, and a sense of mastery. Individuals with positive self-esteem are better equipped to cope with setbacks, navigate obstacles, and maintain a sense of agency in their lives, thus reducing vulnerability to mental health disorders. 

Seeking Mental Health Services 

Mental health resources include professional services, such as therapy, counseling, and psychiatric treatment, as well as community-based supports and psychoeducational programs. Seeking mental health services can aid early intervention, diagnosis, and treatment of mental health conditions. A good place to start is a visit with your general practitioner. 

Imbibing Healthy Lifestyle Habits 

Healthy lifestyle habits can contribute to good mental health in various ways. Good lifestyle habits help in the regulation of neurotransmitters, hormones, aid brain function, promote emotional stability and cognitive functioning, and in developing overall resilience against stressors. Good lifestyle habits include engaging in regular physical activity, maintaining a balanced diet, getting sufficient sleep, and avoiding harmful substances such as nicotine and alcohol.  

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Protective factors serve as vital buffers against the development of mental health problems and promote resilience in the face of adversity. By cultivating strong social support networks, developing healthy coping skills, fostering positive self-esteem, using available mental health resources, and building healthy lifestyle habits, individuals can bolster their mental well-being and thrive despite life's challenges.