Our needs are basic- to survive and reproduce. In many ways the needs in the physical realm is to nourish, hydrate, stay safe and protected and rested.
Now let us look at the landscape of the needs in the mental realm of human beings. Yes, we need a sense of belonging, protection, love, meaning, support and the list goes on. It is a diverse terrain and for each individual it is unique.
Mental health practices are practices that are done to maintain and improve a healthy mind. We go into large extend for the maintenance and improvement of physical health. To some extend we try to take care of our emotions but that too is usually to alleviate the physical discomfort and some extend the mental discomfort sometimes emotions can create.
Let us look at mental health practices. What does it imply? What does it do? These are some important questions we need to keep in mind. As we mentioned earlier, mental health practices are to maintain and improve mental health. Now what is mental health?
Mental health is the overall well-being of the mind. Now what constitutes the mind may be a vague and diffused speculation but as far we our concerned with mental health it constitutes the cognitive, behavioral, different neural processes involved in sensation and perception, memory and extend to emotions and basic needs and drives that help us survive in this world overall.
If we look at aging we see a primary focus of growth and development in earlier years of human life, maintenance once we grow older and usually stagnation the older we are with few exceptions. Growth and development needs to be seen lifelong. Each age group have their own unique developmental goals to attain and focus to take each aspect of mental health seriously is important.
Even though the cognitive mind or what is called frontal development is said to grow upto years of 21 years but the landscape of the frontal development is not linear when it comes to ages beyond 21. In otherwords looking at mental health from a linear perspective cuts short its relevance so as the mental health and capacity of older people.
Health comprises of physical, mental, social and spiritual aspects and neither of them are seperate from each other. Every aspect is interlinked. When you take care of one aspect it also has an influence on the other. However, for an optimal health every aspect needs to be taken care of.
Let us look at each aspect of health before looking in detail into mental health and practices. Physical health is the aspect of taking care of our physical body and its functioning. It is the same when it comes to rest of the aspects its structural and functional optimization. Mental health comprises of the overall functioning of the mind and its structural integrity in terms of neurocognitive functioning emotional and sensory-perceptual mechanisms. Social health is important as well. We are social beings, beings that survive and thrive as a community. Having a healthy relationship and structural dynamics in the familial and social circle is integral to our survival and functioning of our physical, mental and spiritual aspects. Spiritual health is about maintaining well-being beyond the aspects of survival. It is as important as any other aspect, in fact, it is what keeps us going during hard times. The understanding of our existence beyond this mind and body and as part of the universe gives us a sense of meaning to our struggles and hard work to survive and thrive. We function as part of the universe not separate from it.
Mental health is the overall structural and functional well- being of our mind. Our mind comprises of aspects that help us connect to the world and within us, the thought processes and cognitive mechanisms that help us do complex tasks in an effortful manner and our subconscious mail system of emotions that is key to our survival as a species.
What is mental health practices? Mental health practices are a set of practices aim to maintain well-being and optimal functioning of our various mental processes. We may discuss about it in the coming article in detail. Many ancient practices and lifestyle used to include mental health practices as part of daily living like in southern India drawing “kolam” (geometric designs) on the floor by women during early morning is a way of working out the mind’s capacity to handle planning, execution and understanding of spatial dimensions along with helping blood circulate well to the frontal part of the brain while bending down to draw on the floor. Similarly practices of various knot makings, garland makings and the list of including methods of daily practices to improve overall health is emphasized. Modern time is about fast pace, easy way multi-tasking and time saving way of life. But does it contribute to overall health? We see various lifestyle diseases and early aging as an outcome. Of course, there are wonderful means to take care of health and health services to cure certain diseases that was difficult to treat during earlier days.
Health is wealth and it still stands true. The diversity in the landscape of mental health practices stem from an evolutionary, socio-cultural, physiological and psychological diversity we see in this world.