As defined by the World Health Organization, mental health is "a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community."
A clear distinction has always been made between mind and body. The body has always been given emphasis over the mind.
“You need to eat nutritious food to stay healthy.” “You should eat green vegetables for your eyes.”
“Eating lots of proteins will develop your muscles and help you grow.”
All of us have heard these statements growing up. But is physical health the only health? Is it the only health that is important?
Mental and emotional well-being are two other aspects of health in the human body. Just like our eyes, muscles and bones need nutrition to stay healthy and work properly, so does our mind. Even more importantly since it is the mind, your brain, that makes your entire body work. If you look at it closely, you are what your mind is. Your body is just a tool that your mind uses to assist you. This health is largely affected by the food we consume.
With the ever expanding digital media, the food our mind consumes has become largely informational with the line between true and false increasingly blurred. It is true that with social media in the picture, we have had advantages unlike before. It has become a source of educational process through various tools and an easy access to resources. It provides worldwide connectivity, be it with family, friends or relationship building for work. Major news, events, information on what is happening around the world is brought to the tip of our fingers within seconds. It doesn’t just provide efficient communication but also has become the source for good news movements.
The list of advantages is vast. But the other side of the social media coin has a long list of disadvantages that are being added to with every passing second. Influx of fake news and unpleasant information, privacy issues, changes in lifestyle habits, disruption of sleep cycle, a huge lack of emotional connect, increasingly anti-social behaviour, reduction in familial intimacy are just a few of the problems. Not to forget, social media has become the jury, judge and executor for everything that happens. At this point, it does not matter if the accused is guilty or not. Something that goes online, remains there for life. A character that is assassinated on the floor of digital media is hardly ever brought back to life.
With such rapidly deteriorating life standards, psychological health needs to be on the forefront more than before. Being mentally healthy is expeditiously becoming a requisite with 7.5% of the Indian population suffering from mental health issues. A percentage that is expected to reach 20% by the end of this year (as stated by WHO, 2020). Being mentally healthy does not mean smiling or being happy at all times. It means being able to learn, to nurture the ability to express our feelings without guilt and manage a range of emotions- be it positive or negative. It means being able to form and maintain a good relationship with others and being able to cope and manage change and uncertainty.
Physical health isn't the only health we need to care about. Our mental and emotional health needs to be taken care of too, irrespective of age, gender, marital status or field of work.
To read an example of the importance of mental health in a different field, click on the link: https://www.wsj.com/articles/naomi-osaka-french-open-mental-health-wimbledon-olympics-11622636186