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Lesson 12: Take Care of Your Mental Health

This is the last lesson in the Prioritising your Health topic as well as Part 1: The Laureate’s Mindset. It is therefore appropriate that this lesson should be about mental health. We’ve touched on a few aspects of mental health in this book so far, but I feel that you should have a more in-depth understanding of its importance. Your mind is probably your most prized possession when you are competing to become a Laureate. So, it is crucial that you learn how to keep it in good health.

We all experience issues with our mental health, just like we experience problems with our physical health. Mental health issues are just more extreme versions of the usual feelings and behaviours that we typically experience. Just like physical illness, they vary in terms of severity and duration.

Just like it’s normal to experience physical health issues, it’s normal to experience mental health issues.

When we are physically sick, we go to the doctor. Unfortunately, for many of us, especially students, when we experience mental health issues, we tend to bottle it up and not talk about it. This topic is not often discussed at home or school. It’s quite common that students don’t bring up their mental health issues because they feel insecure, or don’t want to stand out and feel embarrassed. Sometimes, bringing up this topic can even make other people feel uncomfortable. However, the bad news is that mental ill-health adversely influences the way you think, feel, and behave, thereby adversely affecting your chances to become a Laureate.

It’s perfectly okay to have mental health issues. However, not doing anything about them is NOT OKAY.

Let’s face it. You are probably going to face some degree of mental ill-health during your studies. This happens to all of us. However, since they represent an obstacle to your goal of becoming a Laureate, you need to deal with them.

The first step is to know the main mental issues affecting students. These are depression, anxiety, eating disorders, addiction, and suicide. It’s normal to feel some degree of the symptoms associated with those issues. Still, if you experience them regularly, it might be a good idea to seek help from a professional. But first, you need an overall impression of the signs and symptoms:

  • Change in appetite. You might be eating considerably less than you used to. Or, you might be eating a lot more than you used to.

  • Disturbance in sleep.

  • Feeling sad, hopeless, powerless, or overwhelmed.

  • Difficulty reading or paying attention.

  • No longer enjoying the things you used to.

  • No longer attending classes or doing your homework.

  • Reacting negatively to things.

  • Thinking about death and suicide.

  • Feeling extremely worried or tensed all the time.

  • Panicking often.

  • Feeling stressed or apprehensive.

  • Constant feeling of fear.

  • Addiction to cigarettes, alcohol, drugs, or something else.

This is not an exhaustive list, so, I would encourage you to look things up in more detail by yourself. Even if you are not experiencing any of those issues now, you might encounter them another time, so it pays to be able to recognise them.

Here's an extremely insightful speech delivered by Vedna Ramchurn delivered on the Unspoken Words platform:

Why do we even tag a person with mental illness as 'mentally ill' and not a person with fever, diabetes or asthma as 'physically ill' ? - Vedna Ramchurn

So, whenever you are experiencing symptoms associated with mental health issues, the best thing to do is talk about them to someone you trust or seek help from a professional if needed. You could also take a break if this makes you feel better. In fact, as Hailey Hardcastle advocates in her TedTalk, you could even take mental health days if you really need to. Here’s the talk:

I think the two talks encompass most of the points I want to get across. Hence, I will not add anything else to them.

In short, the Key Takeaway for this lesson is:

Don’t neglect your mental health.

Do you have any questions or comments? Post them below!

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