By Abu Dhabi 360
As Mental Health Awareness Month is observed worldwide, the focus once again shifts towards helping people recognize the ways mental illness can impact lives, educating people about support services and highlighting ways to advocate.
In the past, wellbeing was often considered a luxury rather than a necessity, with sporadic attention paid to it. However, in recent years, the importance of individual wellbeing in assessing the quality of life has gained recognition. In the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region alone, it is estimated that at least 15% of people are grappling with mental health issues at any given time, although this could be an underestimate due to stigma and other barriers to seeking help.
A holistic approach to wellbeing recognizes the interconnectedness of physical and non-physical aspects, allowing for a comprehensive understanding of all aspects of life. Abu Dhabi 360, the recently launched wellness program by Abu Dhabi Sports Council is at the forefront of promoting a 360-degree approach to mental health, addressing physical, mental, and social wellbeing. It recognizes that stigma and other barriers may prevent individuals from acknowledging and addressing their mental wellbeing, potentially leading to an underestimation of mental health issues in the region.
John Bromley, a Public Health Consultant who is working with Abu Dhabi 360, explains: “The 360-degree approach highlights that mental wellbeing is the result of numerous interconnected factors working in harmony to support an individual’s overall health. It encourages the proactive management of mental health by fostering cognitive, emotional and social wellbeing. It’s important to remember that mental health is just as important as physical health, influencing every aspect of our lives, and if neglected, can lead to serious long-term consequences.”
So, what are the essential steps to embracing this holistic 360-degree approach to mental health?
Gaining self-awareness is an essential first step in addressing mental health challenges. By gaining a deeper understanding of our emotions, thoughts and behavioral patterns we can identify and address potential issues. Adult Psychiatrist, Dr. Haseeb Rohilla, explains: “Self-awareness is the ability to recognize our own thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, and understand how they impact ourselves and others. Through self-awareness, we gain valuable insights that enable us to make informed decisions, communicate effectively, and develop meaningful relationships.”
Practicing self-care is cruicial for maintaining mental health and building resilience. According to Dr. Haseeb Rohilla, “Self-care is not an indulgence, but a necessity for sustainable wellness. It involves prioritizing our physical, mental, and emotional well-being to ensure we have the energy, resilience, and clarity of mind to tackle challenges and seize opportunities”.
Prioritizing activities that promote physical, mental and emotional wellbeing can have siginificant positive impacts on mental health outcomes. The Abu Dhabi 360 app offers resources for wellness activities such as personalized exercise routines, nutrition guidance, sleep tracking, and relaxation techniques.
Success is rarely achieved alone. It requires a supportive network of mentors, colleagues, and allies who provide guidance, feedback, and encouragement. There is no shame in reaching out to mental health professionals, such as therapists or psychiatrists, for help in navigating life’s challenges and developing coping strategies. Professional support can take various forms, including individual therapy, group therapy, or medication management, depending on the individual’s needs and comfort
Strong social connections play a vital role for mental health, as it provides support, encouragement and a sense of belonging. Nurturing relationships with friends, family and colleagues can act as a buffer against stress and promote emotional wellbeing. “Social connections can provide emotional support, motivation, and a sense of belonging, which are essential for our overall well-being.” says Dr. Rohilla. Building and maintaining social connections can be achieved by joining clubs or organizations, participating in support groups, or volunteering in their community.
Addressing mental health is of utmost importance, and embracing a 360 approach is the first step towards breaking down the stigma associated with mental health and fostering an environment in which individuals feel empowered to seek assistance and support, ultimately contributing to a healthier and happier community society. ith the resources provided by the Abu Dhabi 360 app, individuals can take the necessary steps to prioritize their physical and mental health and live a 360-balanced life.