Physical and mental health: two sides of the same coin

We all have mental health. The wellbeing of our minds is as important as that of our bodies. The two are interconnected, in more ways than one. Yet we continue to see them as separate entities, we continue to treat them under different guises and we continue to give preferential value to taking care of physical problems rather than those which are housed within. This needs to change.

Despite increases in funding, awareness and discussion, our mental health is still something which is compartmentalised. It would perhaps seem that, for those unaffected by mental illness, this issue is a detached one. “It doesn’t affect me, so I don’t need to worry.”

Just as we all have to take care of our bodies, to maintain and sustain them, we should be affording just as much attention to our minds. So much of this culture of healthy living is focused on physicality. Eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly and avoiding infection are high on the priority list when it comes to health. It is time that the preservation of our mental health was up there too.

The interconnection of our minds and bodies is a detail which we continue to ignore. Our mental health can affect our physical health and vice versa, so why do we separate them into two distinct strands of ‘health.’ This only serves to render them independent rather than dependent upon each other, fuelling the inadvertent privilege we give to illnesses which present themselves tangibly.

Recently, I have been undergoing tests relating to an issue with my physical health. Getting to this stage was straightforward, if not easy. A doctor’s appointment was booked and attended, and a referral has since been made. Likewise, relatively recently, I looked to receive support regarding an issue with my mental health. Unlike that of my physical issue, the process was elongated, frustrating and inconclusive. The care seemed rushed and my problem still stands.

Although I am one example, I am one out of numerous cases. It took approximately six minutes to receive an appointment regarding one issue. Yet, it took six weeks to obtain one concerning the other. The disparity in waiting time is representative of a wider issue, that we still do not place enough emphasis on the upkeep of mental health.

This is not to say we have not made progress. Attitudes towards mental health have come on in leaps and bounds in the past decade. But there is still a long way to go. It is until we all realise how important this issue is to us as individuals that we will give it the weight it deserves. We must sit up and listen; we all have mental health.

 

Illustration: Issy Smith

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