Ask The Expert: 4 Things You Need to Know about Your Mental Health
“Almost everyone struggles with some level of anxiety, stress or depression at some stage in their lives,” shares Ms Venuga devi Muruges, a licensed mental health counsellor who has been practising for the past 2 years. “However, there is still stigma and discrimination around seeking help for one’s mental health.”
Part of that stigma may be due to misconceptions around what seeking help looks like. Just like how we see a doctor when we are physically ill, we should also speak to a mental health expert if we are struggling with our mental health. Today, we speak to Ms Venuga to learn more about what you should know about your mental health and what to expect when you’re seeking help.
Your mental health and physical health are interrelated.
“The body keeps count of what we choose to avoid mentally,” shares Ms Venuga. While we may pay more attention to our physical health, our mental health shouldn’t go neglected as it can impact our body. For example, stress may manifest as insomnia at night or a lack of appetite in the day. If left unchecked, physical symptoms may worsen and have a detrimental impact on our overall health.
“We need a holistic approach to our health. It’s important to invest in your mental health as much as you do in your physical health.”
Your feelings are valid but may not be the full truth of the situation.
When we’re struggling with our mental health, we may find it difficult to sort out our feelings and emotions. “In times of crisis, speak to yourself with the same compassion you would have when talking to a friend with a similar problem,” suggests Ms Venuga.
However, if you find that you’re unable to cope by yourself, do seek professional help. A mental health expert can help you to understand your emotions and prevent you from spiralling deeper into maladaptive thoughts.
“These are a few signs of when you should seek professional support:
Trouble sleeping, eating or getting through daily activities
Physical symptoms, such as chest pain, constant headache, stomach pain
Picking the right mental health expert is like picking the right partner.
“For counselling to be effective, you should feel like you can connect with your mental health expert – both emotionally and intellectually,” says Ms Venuga. “Take your time to find the right one for you.”
She suggests reading through the professional profiles of various mental health experts, to see if their focus matches your concerns. For example, if you’re facing challenges at work, it would be good to find an expert who specialises in workplace stress management. What’s important is feeling that you can trust your mental health expert, as this is a key factor to the success of going for counselling.
“It’s okay to stop seeing a counsellor if you feel that they’re not the best fit for you,” assures Ms Venuga.
You need to commit for there to be results.
“Counselling and therapy are effective only if you are willing to do the work,” says Ms Venuga. This includes being willing to share during sessions as well as practicing exercises assigned to you, after your session.
“In your first session, the counsellor will work with you to establish your goals and purpose for seeking therapy,” says Ms Venuga. “They’ll ask questions to better understand what your current needs are; what has worked or hasn’t worked for you in the past; what you feel is missing in your life. This helps them to put together a plan suited for you.”
Progress does take time! As such, don’t feel discouraged if your problems aren’t resolved after the first session. Good mental health habits and un-learning unproductive ways of thinking doesn’t happen overnight and requires consistent effort and practise to master.
Should you find that you need professional support, Doctor Anywhere is here for you. Speak to a mental health expert discreetly over the DA app, from the comfort of your own home. The journey towards good mental health is a marathon and not a sprint; we’re ready to walk with you, every step of the way.