Experts believe that there is a fundamental connection between mental health and physical health. Various mental conditions result in physical manifestations in multiple forms and can impact quality of life on a daily basis.
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines mental health as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of a disease or infirmity. WHO further states that there is no health without mental health, laying significant emphasis on mental health at the very core of wellness.
The importance of mental health towards leading a successful life cannot be underestimated – it impacts almost every aspect of our everyday wellness and is directly associated with causing various unhealthy conditions if not acknowledged and treated.
Depressive disorders and anxiety disorders are among some of the most commonly found mental health conditions in Sri Lanka, according to the Ministry of Health. 
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), panic disorder, phobias, social anxiety disorders, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) are among commonly found mental health concerns in Sri Lanka, according to the data made available by the Ministry.
These conditions can cause severe to moderate physical ailments – for an example, depression is said to cause headaches, digestive problems and fatigue. Anxiety disorders can cause an upset stomach, sleep deprivation and restlessness. Consistent and untreated mental health conditions can severely hamper everyday functioning and prevent one from leading a balanced life. It may also encourage suicidal thoughts and induce self-harming.
With the recent pandemic conditions, mental health has become a key issue for many to deal with. Lockdowns and the devastating impact of Covid-19 on almost all areas of life has affected mental health, causing anxiety and depression among communities.
In Sri Lanka, The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMHS) overlooks the area of mental health. NIMHS is committed to a goal of ensuring comprehensive and evidence based support for mental health care through various mechanisms involving the patients, the community and multi sector collaboration.
Mitigating mental health with successful outcomes is an issue of concern for the community at large. Mental health can be as damaging as physical conditions and must be managed well in order to minimize the impact on over-all health and wellbeing.
Mental health is also a key area of concern for children – many youngsters feel stress and the impact of study pressure. Children are encouraged to take up hobbies, play outdoors to be involved with nature and engage in regular family conversations that build confidence and assure them of a loving, caring space within which they can express their vulnerabilities and be understood and loved.
There are many ways in which we can strive towards minimizing mental health conditions while also managing our physical wellbeing.
The following are some suggestions.
Exercise – Engaging in exercise as a routinely established everyday effort is associated with boosting both mental and physical health.
Building fellowship with others – Forming relationships with others that encourage fellowship and shared conversations is associated with improving emotional and mental wellbeing.
Getting adequate sleep – Going to sleep at a specific time and ensuring an unbroken 8 hours of sleep contributes towards mental wellness and rest.
Engaging in a hobby – Choosing a hobby that can be entertaining and interesting is yet another way that fosters a cheerful mood and builds confidence.
Engage with nature – Travelling and experiencing the beauty of nature often alleviates anxiety and reinforces positive mental health; appreciating natural beauty and landscapes has the power to enhance and boost positivity.
Mental health remains an area of priority for everyone – acknowledging it and understanding it well enough to pay adequate attention is a vital step forward in managing it as a community.