Emotional health and wellbeing is equally as important as physical health and wellbeing.
That is the message from the Chief Medical Officer, Dr Michael McBride as he publishes his annual report today.
He said: “Today I am publishing my 11th annual report as CMO, focusing on mental and emotional health and wellbeing and detailing some of the great work being done in this field.
“In this report I have emphasised the ways we are promoting the development of emotional health and wellbeing in children and young people because positive mental health in childhood contributes to productive relationships and good health throughout life.”
“Good mental health builds resilience. If you are feeling more resilient you are better prepared to cope with life’s challenges. At other times you may require support to bounce back.
“It is not uncommon for people to experience difficulties with their mental health at some point in their life. One in five of us will be affected and every one of us will have a friend, family member or colleague who has experienced a degree of mental ill-health.
“It is important to emphasise that help is available and that recovery is possible.
“However I remain concerned that stigma continues to be a barrier for people seeking help with mental health issues, and stigma can itself adversely affect someone’s mental health. We all need to tackle stigma to create a lasting, positive change in people’s attitudes towards mental health.”
The importance of balanced use of social media and technology is also highlighted in the report. Dr McBride stated: “Social media and screen-based activities can be hugely beneficial for children and young people, encouraging social interaction, education and providing access to support and information. However, it should not intrude on activities such as exercise and quality sleep. I would encourage parents to agree boundaries with children and young people around online behaviours and time spent using screens.”
We can all take steps to look after our mental health and to help those who are close to us. Dr McBride highlights some resources in his report, including the Take five steps to wellbeing – Be active, Give, Connect, Keep Learning, and Take Notice.
The report is available at www.health-ni.gov.uk/cmoannualreport2018/19 .
More information on looking after mental health and the support which is available across Northern Ireland can be found at www.mindingyourhead.info. You can also talk to your GP for advice.
If you or someone you know is in distress or despair, call Lifeline on 0808 808 8000. This is a confidential service where trained counsellors will listen and help immediately on the phone and follow up with other support if necessary. The helpline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can also access the Lifeline website at www.lifelinehelpline.info.
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