Good mental health allows us to realise our full potential. We’re able to cope with the stresses of daily life, work productively, and make meaningful contributions to our communities. At every age and life stage, mental health has a powerful influence on our overall health: our emotional state, physical health, relationships and more.
We cannot take our mental health for granted: it can change as our lives change. Biological, psychological and environmental factors can significantly impact our mental wellbeing, making it incredibly difficult to cope at home, school or work, and in life. Mental health issues can cover a broad range of conditions – stress, anxiety, depression, eating disorders, phobias, self-harm, learning disorders, acute psychiatric disorders and more – but the common characteristic is they all affect a person’s personality, thought processes and social interactions.
At IMI, we believe there are seven critical pillars for positive mental health: mind, emotions, body, environment, sense of purpose, energy, and community. Drawing on our Integrated Healing Model we can work with you or your loved ones to identify and address the pillars that need greater attention to support positive mental health at every life stage.
Our mental health can be affected by
- Particularly difficult life experiences like abuse, trauma and loss. Current life events or shocks can also re-trigger early trauma.
- Substance misuse: drugs, alcohol, addiction to medication. In fact, sleeping medication is a significant cause of impaired mental health.
- Primary relationship difficulties: matrimonial challenges; separation; divorce or bereavement.
- Life events: conception, pregnancy and post-partum; transitions like change/loss of work or relocation; work-place stress; illness or injury; death or loss
- Long term stress
- A family history of mental health problems
- Biological factors such as your genes and brain chemistry, which can lead to a myriad of conditions ranging from ADHD and ASD to bipolar, schizophrenia and psychosis.
- Social dis-advantage, poverty, homelessness and debt
And there’s more. Diet. Stress levels. Exercise. Sense of purpose. The people you connect with and the people you don’t. These and many more seemingly unrelated factors can help or hinder your mental health.
It’s entirely normal to experience stress, anxiety, fear and concern at times. It’s human nature. Our mood and mental state will vary on a daily, sometimes hourly basis. So, how can we recognise mental illness in ourselves, a loved one or friend? When ongoing signs and symptoms affect a person’s ability to function, it’s important to seek help. Left untreated, the consequences of mental illness can be dire, even fatal. We’ve helped thousands of people with mild to severe mental health problems: most people can recover well or learn to manage their mental wellbeing, especially if they receive appropriate support early on.
The red flags to look out for include but are not limited to:
- Ongoing sadness and tearyness
- Dramatic mood changes of highs and lows
- Excessive fears, worries or guilt
- Inability to cope with daily stress
- Sleep problems: sleeping too much or too little
- Lacking in motivation and energy
- Withdrawal from social situations
- Disconnect with friends and loved ones
- Major changes in habits: eating, alcohol or drug use, sex drive
- Excessive anger or violence
- Delusions, paranoia or hallucinations
- Thoughts of self-harm or suicide
If you or someone you know is showing signs of mental illness, we urge to reach out for support. As lonely as you may feel, you are NOT alone. Our team of mental health practitioners are skilled at supporting people of all ages with a range of mental health challenges. Stress, anxiety and panic attacks. Phobias and fears. Depression. Eating disorders. Acute psychiatric conditions. Memory decline. And the mental health challenges that can arise with learning spectrum disorders including dyslexia, ADHD and ASD.
Our psychotherapists, psychologists, counsellors and coaches offer a safe space where you can be heard, where you can heal, and where you can grow. Skilful therapy can even change your adult brain and the way that it’s wired. Past trauma can be healed, old patterns can shift, and new possibilities can emerge. Working hand-in-hand with you, they can identify the pillars that are crumbling and put in a place a personalised plan to support and strengthen your mental wellbeing at every life stage.
At IMI, we recognise the link between gut health, nutrient deficiencies and hormonal imbalances on mental health. If you’re struggling with bouts of the blues, our naturopaths can help to identify hidden culprits through simple diagnostic testing. Tailored to your needs, they may prescribe customised nourishing herbs, potent supplements, and lifestyle and dietary changes. Based on your symptoms, they may suggest restorative therapies like osteopathy, acupuncture, craniosacral therapy and more to rebalance and improve energy levels and bolster your mental health.
The following are a mix of resources from various teachers, poets and traditions that have been personally recommended by our counsellors, psychotherapists and mindfulness teachers:
Audio and YouTube:
- Tara Brach talks for beginners
- Guided meditation on fear
- Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD - Mindfulness for Beginners (Audio)
- 5 Minute Mindfulness Meditation (for Beginners)
- David Whyte – The Poetry of Self Compassion and Courage and Vulnerability (both available on iTunes)
- Embracing the Unknown – Pema Chodren
- Self-Compassion Step by Step – Kristin Neff
- The Headspace Guide to Meditation and Mindfulness
- Mindfulness: An Eight-Week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World
- Full Catastrophe Living – Jon Kabat-Zinn
- True Refuge: Finding Peace and Freedom in Your Own Awakened Heart
- The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying – Soygal Rinpoche
- When Things Fall Apart: heart advice for difficult times – Pema Chodren
- The Path of the Yoga Sutras: a practical guide to the core of yoga – Nicholai Bachman
Help for people in crisis
Here are some hotlines and online resources if you’re concerned a friend or a loved one is at immediate risk:
- 24-hour Samaritans multi-lingual Suicide Prevention hotline: +852 2896 0000
- 24-hour hotline at Suicide Prevention Services (predominantly Cantonese-speakers): +852 2382 0000
Local services are stretched at the moment. But don’t give up. Here are some links to additional resources:
- Mind HK: Click here to view a thorough list of helplines in Hong Kong to address your specific needs.
- Suicide stop international help centre: These are safe, moderated online spaces where you can speak your mind, either one to one with a professional or in forums with others feeling similarly.
Articles, blogs, videos and resources:
The link between your emotions, your body and pain
Your emotions and bodily experiences are intimately connected. Pain expert and osteopath, Maxi shares how you can manage physical pain related to your emotions.
What is oxidative stress anyway?
Oxidative stress occurs when there is an imbalance of free radicals and antioxidants in our body. Free radicals are highly reactive, unstable molecules produced by our bodies.
When trauma leads to infertility, and infertility leads to trauma
Infertility can cause trauma, and trauma can cause infertility too. Could past events be impacting your fertility? And could therapy help you heal emotionally and physically?
6 Signs Psychotherapy is Calling for You
IMI Counselling Psychologist Jessica Lau shares 6 signs that indicate it may be the right time to seek psychotherapy.
AMA with Dr Benita Perch on Facebook Live (1 March 2022)
Facebook live with Dr Benita Perch “How do I protect myself and my kids against Covid?”, “I’ve got Covid. Help!”, “Should I vaccinate my kids?”, “What protocol should I follow...
When silence isn’t golden
From repression to expression, counsellor Catriona Rogers shares the reasons men hold back, the detrimental effects, and simple techniques to end the silence.