Good mental health is an art

Mental Health, Self Help
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A mental health pitstop

What a privilege to be invited to write to you! I’m excited to be here. Slipping into my newsletter readers inbox on a Wednesday morning is one of the highlights of my week, so it’s a delight to be able to reach you today, wherever you are when you read this. Mental health is such a journey, and there are pitstops and bends in the road, so I’m very aware that you might be at any point on that road – from exuberance to down-right exhaustion, from feeling perky to feeling pointless. Wherever you are, that’s ok. Let’s hunker down together for a moment, and grab a roadside coffee. Park up, grab your thermos out of the glove compartment and come join me.

I’m writing at the moment about mental health being a journey. I’m writing a book about that journey being one that you create. Good mental health is an art, and you are an artist, navigating the road. It’s so hard to know what the destination is when all you have is a mental map of where NOT to go. There are countless definitions of poor mental health. The psychiatric bible of diagnoses, the DSM, swells every time it is revised with fresh definitions of labels that can be given to cover mental illness. But there’s no recognised definition of what is good mental health.

A couple of years ago I set out to answer that challenge and create something that would work for me and my mental health community. This is the sentence I made:

Good mental health is an art, built on the habit of catching and appreciating ordinary moments.

I love that mental health is an art, because that makes me and you artists. We are creating and curating our minds, day by day, moment by moment. When I made that definition, I made a Meetup group and we would read those words out together at the start of each meeting, and then we would say “Let’s make some ordinary moments together”.

These are ordinary moments. This is an ordinary moment, our pitstop together. This is an ordinary moment, you reading on your device right now, me, tip tapping away on the laptop, music in my headphones. I’m imagining us on our pitstop, I can see it as a bend in the road on a mountainside, and we have our coffee in a thermos we are sharing, views all around going into misty blue hilltops. For some reason we are in America. Even that moment, in the imagination, if we were living it out for real, would be an ordinary moment. The ordinary extraordinary. How precious these moments are.

I’m writing a book then, about ordinary moments. What I’m doing is spending the summer in my caravan by the sea in Whitstable and writing it there. I’m writing a book going through my definition of good mental health, phrase by phrase. Each phrase has a chapter. What is good mental health? What does it mean to be an artist? How do you build good habits? And so on.

I’m writing a book over the summer, sharing the ordinary moments of writing it, and in the autumn I’m going to publish it, promote it at the Whitstable car boot fair, where all the locals go. I’m also going to have an online launch on Sept 17th, and then I’ll be reading it, a chapter a week, in the autumn. We can take all that summer goodness and store it up for winter. That’s crafty. That’s artistry. That’s good driving.

I’m imagining us now, flicking the dregs of our coffee from the thermos cups into the bushes and putting the lids back on. Time to get back on the road. It’s been a total pleasure making an ordinary moment with you. Get back to your journey, you mental health artist you. And if you fancy another pitstop any other time, you know where I am.

Good Mental Health is an Art comes out Sept 17th on Amazon and all major book outlets. You can find out more details by following Hannah on Instagram @mentalhealthartists

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