Each year, 10th October is World Mental Health Day.
Often the terms mental health and emotional health are used interchangeably.
However, mental, and emotional health have very different meanings and it is important to differentiate between the two.
Mental health influences our thoughts and actions, and it covers three main types of well-being:
The World Health Organization defines mental health as:
“Mental health is a state of well-being in which an individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.”
There are a wide range of symptoms associated with mental health problems, including severe changes in mood, feeling a lack of energy, overeating or under-eating, insomnia, excessive sleeping, and increased use of drugs and alcohol.
Emotional health is about being emotionally self-aware and being able to express our emotions appropriately.
And it is emotional health & wellbeing that the charity Daring to Dream is focused on supporting.
Why does this matter?
It matters because we experience illness (and the impact of its treatments and interventions) physically and emotionally. The clinical teams who treat us provide great medical expertise and care, but it is essential we also address our own emotional responses too in order to live as well as possible with physical illness.
Dr Nav Masani, consultant cardiologist at University Hospital of Wales and a trustee of Daring to Dream said: ‘From our experience across the directorate, we recognise that patients who are physically and emotionally robust, or can be supported to be so, make better recoveries. Some of our patients, who are living with chronic illness, without a doubt have to face the increasing fear factor of having to come back into hospital repeatedly at times when maybe they want to study more, develop their career, develop their independence, or start a family … so to do that with a long term health condition I think requires an increasing focus on emotional health and wellbeing.’
Barbara Chidgey, founder and chair of Daring to Dream said: ‘Supporting the emotional health and wellbeing of people living with longstanding physical illness is a huge, under-served and under-represented inclusion agenda. With approximately 1.2 million adults in Wales living with physical illness, Daring to Dream’s role is of significant importance in supporting “living well with illness”.’