For World Mental Health Day, remember you are not alone

World Mental Health Day is coming on 10 October. It’s a day to raise awareness of mental health and to encourage people to seek help if they need it.

According to the World Health Organisation, 1 in 8 people globally are living with mental health conditions. This means that many of us will experience mental health problems at some point in our lives. Doing so does not set us apart or mean that we are odd, unusual, or weak. We are simply one of the many people struggling at the moment.

Taking care of your mental health

However, it’s also important to remember that there are often things we can do to take control of our mental health. For many problems, such as anxiety, depression, anger, jealousy, phobias etc, we can take steps to help ourselves maintain or regain mental wellbeing.

One way to do this is to learn about Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT), which is the type of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) we teach and practice here at CCBT. REBT has at its core the concept of “emotional responsibility.”

Emotional responsibility is the idea that we are largely responsible for our own emotions. This doesn’t mean that we are to blame for our emotions, in the pejorative sense, but it does mean that we have the power to choose how we react to them and the situations we find ourselves in.

REBT teaches us that our unhealthy emotions are driven largely by irrational beliefs, rather than situations or other people. Instead of ‘situation X’ making us anxious, it is what we choose to believe or tell ourselves about ‘situation X’ that provokes our emotional and behavioural response.

Irrational beliefs will lead to unhealthy emotions, whilst rational beliefs will lead to healthy ones (even if they are still negative). Irrational beliefs are thoughts that are unrealistic, irrational and unhelpful.

Here are a few examples of irrational beliefs:

  • I must be perfect. If I’m not I am unlovable.
  • If I make a mistake, it’s awful and it means that I am a failure.
  • The world must be easy for me, if it’s not I can’t stand it.

When we challenge our irrational beliefs, we can start to take control of our thoughts and emotions. For example, if we have the irrational belief “I must be perfect. If I’m not I am unlovable” we can challenge it by asking ourselves:

  • Is it really true that I must be perfect in order to be loved and accepted?
  • Is this a sensible, logical thing for me to believe? Would a philosopher agree?
  • What benefits, if any, do I get by believing this?

By challenging our irrational beliefs, we can start to develop more realistic and helpful thoughts. This can lead to a decrease in unhealthy emotions and an increase in healthy emotions.

No shame in mental health issues

For World Mental Health Day, perhaps the most important irrational, unhealthy beliefs to challenge are those which say you must never experience mental health problems, or that no one must know if you do.

There is no shame in experiencing mental health problems. Mental health is no different from physical health. Anyone can experience periods of ill health, regardless of who they are. By challenging our irrational demands about never experiencing poor mental health, or people knowing if we do, it can be easier to seek help if we need it.

If you are struggling with your mental health, there are a number of things you can do:

  • Talk to a trusted friend or family member.
  • Seek professional help. A good place to start is an accredited register of qualified practitioners, such as the National Counselling & Psychotherapy Society.
  • Take care of yourself physically by eating healthily, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep.

Remember, you are not alone. Millions of people around the world experience mental health problems. There is help available, and you can get better.

Nick Jones
REBT / CBT therapist

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