In recent years talking about mental health has become a top priority. Campaigns like ‘RUOK Day’ and organisations like Headspace have brought issues that were once taboo into the spotlight, where they can be addressed, managed and hopefully resolved.
To take the conversation one step further, leading positive psychologist and founder of The Positivity Institute Dr Suzy Green is encouraging Australians to take a more proactive approach to mental health. In her new book, The Positivity Prescription Dr Suzy suggests we prepare for life’s stressors before they result in a crisis situation.
“We still need reactive and clinical approaches [to psychology],” said Dr Suzy, “…but this is about balancing it out with a focus on strengths and positive emotions, and what’s going well as opposed to what’s going wrong.”
“Generally speaking, people don’t seek help with a psychologist or a therapist until the curve-balls hit; until they’re really depressed. And what we’re trying to do in the profession of psychology generally, is encourage people to talk more about their mental health because [no-one is] untouched by a mental health issue these days, whether it’s themselves or their family.”
Suzy’s 6 M’s for Resilience and Mental Health
To help us develop our resilience and mental fortitude, Dr Suzy recommends what she calls the ‘6 M Model’, following these six principles:
1 – MOOD: Being aware of the full range of our human emotions, and actively cultivating the positive ones, through activities that have been scientifically proven to spark them.
2 – MOTIVATION: Working on your short and long term goals, and making sure they’re aligned to your core values, so they are meaningful and stir your motivation.
3 – MIGHT: Instead of focusing on what you’re not good at, look at your strengths, and how you can develop those. Also, recognise the strengths in others.
4 – MEANING: Tapping into your values and gaining a sense of meaning in your life. This is one of the things we lose in cases of depression.
5 – MINDFULNESS: This is the skill of being in the present moment, as opposed to worrying about what happened in the past, or what might, happen in the future.
6 – MINDSET: Evaluating our perception of, and approach to, the world around is. Do you have a flexible mindset, that is willing to grow? Or do you have a fixed mindset, that has no hope for change? This is a key to performance and wellbeing.
“Historically you wouldn’t have learnt these skills until you really were distressed,” Suzy says, “but particularly now in this ‘V.U.C.A. world’ we’re living in – the volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world – I would argue we need every psychological skill we can possibly get our hands on right now, to not just survive but to thrive.”
Dr Suzy’s book The Positivity Prescription is out now. For more psychological tips visit thepositivityinstitute.com.au