We’re often conscious about what kinds of food we’re eating and how much exercise we can squeeze into each week to maintain our physical health. But how often do you take a minute to check in with the mental side of things?
A teenager in New Zealand is doing just that through a novel video series that road tests some of the commonly (and not so commonly) circulated tips designed to help improve your day-to-day mental wellbeing.
As part of her Great Mental Health Experiment, Beth Humphrey tries baking, distress tolerance and pet therapy with some interesting results.
She also looks at how sleep – both quality and quantity – can affect your mental state, in one of the four episodes that have been released so far.
Speaking to SBS, Beth explains, “A big thing for me is just to acknowledge that everyone has mental health and mental health is taking care of your emotional side and your feelings, and it’s not what people might confuse as mental illness, everyone has it and we should all be taking care of it.
“I have a huge passion for mental health myself,” she says.
“I’m studying diploma of youth and community studies in Auckland and I’ve learnt a lot about taking care of myself (aka self-care), and there was a lot of stuff that was new to me and I thought people need to know how important it is to look after mental health.”
Beth, who alongside her studies works with New Zealand youth group Live for Tomorrow, says the inspiration behind the video series was to start a conversation and see just how much your mental health affects your general wellbeing.
“It’s never really talked about and we thought we need to do something to get mental health out to young people,” she says.
“I really aim for it to be genuine, there’s nothing fake about it, it’s just me not wanting to sell these tips but just experience them and be like this is what I think but what do you think? And actually start the conversation.”
Each person will have a unique reaction to different tips and tricks, and in her series, Beth is honest about how her feelings change while taking part in the experiment.
She adds: “Everyone is really different and people have different strengths and weaknesses so a lot of things cater better to some people than others.
“Generally most of them will work to a degree but I think on what scale they work is really based on the person, for example one that’s really good for some people is going for a run, where like for me, I’m not as active, so running for me feels a little bit good but doing something creative is more my speed.”
When it comes to her own personal experience with mental health, Beth says: “I’m 19, so coming out of school and going into tertiary study; there’s a lot of pressures behind that.
“Things get overwhelming and you over commit to things and it can get a bit too much, so this has really helped balance me and help me realise that this is good for other people but it’s also really good for myself.
“It comes back to the model of having great self care; you’ve got to keep your physical health up, your mental health up, your spiritual health – all these things play into the one big thing of having great health care.”