Dr Matthew Cullen, Psychiatrist, St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney
Staying mentally healthy, at its core, is about balance in one’s life.
So, how does one stay mentally healthy? The first thing is to take responsibility. Say to yourself, “I want to stay mentally healthy,” in the same way that you would say, “I want to stay physically healthy.”
So, do things that are affirmative, or positive, or make you feel good. And that varies from person to person. In some people, that’s exercise. In others, it’s social interaction. In others, it’s going to work. But underneath it all, it’s actually having something that you look forward to, that you enjoy, that makes you happy – even if it’s only for a short period of time.
The other element that’s very important in staying mentally healthy, is to have something to look forward to. Looking forward as opposed to looking back, is a core construct in staying mentally healthy and indeed, staying mentally happy.
And then, lastly, this is a general rule, it doesn’t apply to everyone. We are social beings. Humans are social beings. So, having some sort of interaction with others is very important to stay mentally healthy. Now, that doesn’t mean you have to do that every day, but within your week there’s a balance of things that you’re doing for yourself, there’s a balance of things that you look forward to, and there’s a balance of things that engage you with other people. And that could be family or friends, or indeed, work colleagues.