Mental Fitness – the missing ingredient in the mental health conversation?Posted over 3 years ago by Jessica Robinson

As part of our commitment to mental health in the tech industry, we will be publishing blog posts from Client Server’s Mental Health Ambassadors about ways to improve mental wellbeing.

In the first post, Client Server’s Advertising Executive Jessica Robinson explains why mental fitness must be a part of the mental health discussion.

‘#mentalhealthawareness’ produces a whopping 66,000,000 results on Google, and boasts 47,386 followers across LinkedIn.

And it’s no wonder. The past decade has witnessed a seismic shift in the mental health conversation, from the bittersweet rise of social media and evolution of ‘self-care’, to celebrities opening up about their struggles. The barriers of stigma are being slowly eradicated as more awareness is brought to issues.

But the mental health narrative is stuck in a rut.

When considering that major depression is thought to be the second leading cause of disability worldwide , bringing awareness proves the inevitability of experiencing a mental health issue, and demonstrates that mental health has been historically neglected.

The root of the worldwide problem can’t be said simply. Differing levels of development, poverty and living conditions play a role in poor emotional health. But on a local and individual level, addressing this is often not a priority.

Enter: ‘mental fitness’. With a meagre 67,900 Google results and only 434 (yes, four hundred and thirty-four) followers across LinkedIn, this dimension of the mental health rhetoric has been overlooked.

Mental fitness encapsulates a huge range of factors, from emotional wellbeing, the ability to cope with difficult situations, confidence, motivation, connection with others, to how we create meaning in the world, how we harness stress positively and emotional awareness.

On a basic level, good mental fitness equals resilience and fulfilment; your mind isn’t immediately consumed by minor difficulties or nagging worries because you have an inventory of tools at your disposal and can bounce back from a set-back.

Mental fitness can be strengthened just like physical fitness. We can make a choice to keep our brain and emotional health in shape.

While 2020 has been a little different, the New Year inevitably produces a new cohort of gym-goers. Whether they are working off the sweet sins of the festive season or want to run a mile, they have made an active choice to improve their physical fitness.

Improving your mental fitness involves the same kind of self-awareness and choice.

I’m not talking about an IQ test or Sudoku, but engaging in mental fitness-related exercises to slow down, take stock, decompress and boost a flagging memory. Our mental wellbeing is shaped by what we consume, our thought patterns and beliefs, so taking time to relax, visualise and affirm can contribute to a more positive frame of reference and lived experience. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that we shouldn’t wait for things to go wrong before knowing how to deal with it. This applies to mental fitness.

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought mental health into sharp relief. Things like absenteeism, poor job performance and low job satisfaction and staff turnover can all be attributed to some extent to poor emotional health. ‘#mentalhealthawareness’ has brought mental health policies into the workplace, which mental fitness should be integral to. An international study reflected that for every $1 invested in scaled up, results-driven mental health treatment there is a $5 return in improved health and productivity.

So, do you consider yourself mentally fit? Do you fear change or are you adaptable? Are you resilient or are you set back by minor roadblocks? Are you confident or do you relinquish control?

Your response and reaction to the past year are grounded in your mental fitness. As my personal hero, Maya Angelou once said; “You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.”

Perhaps 2021 is the year you invest in your mental fitness.