From Monday, 27th February 2023 to Saturday, 4th March 2023, Pentecost University (PU), observed its Health Awareness Week for the year under the theme, “A sound University A+ staff and students”. The week-long observation saw staff and students involved in activities that were geared towards improving their health and well-being. Some of the weeklong activities included;
Wellness Tuesday – Health talk series – Non-communicable diseases
Together Wednesday – Health talk on Pentvars radio – Let’s focus on Hypertension
Fun Friday – Health talk series – Mental hygiene for a sound University A+ staff
Workout Saturday – Health walk, gymnastics and outdoor games
The highlight of the week was the health talk series on Mental hygiene for a sound University A+ staff. This presentation was done excellently by Mr Reginald Arthur-Mensah Jnr, a faculty member of the Faculty of Health and Allied Sciences (FHAS). In the presentation, Mr Arthur-Mensah first took us on the journey of how the term “Mental hygiene” was coined and how it lost its application over the years only to regain strong relevance with the onset of COVID-19. An explanation of the term was given, followed up with why it is important to practice mental hygiene. This then proceeded with stressors that threaten our mental health as faculty members. Cardinal in the presentation were the activities or practices that faculty members should do regularly to maintain, improve and sharpen their mental potential. Below are excerpts from the presentation;
What is mental hygiene?
Practices that allow a person to enjoy mental health and be in harmony with their environment (Lotha, 2020). It can also be seen as daily activities that support and maintain mental health (Ramirez-Barrantes et al., 2019).
Why is it important?
Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity (WHO, 1946). As well, it is indicated that 1 in 5 people will develop mental illness in their lifetime (WHO, 2017).
What are the stressors to mental health?
Teaching workload, preparing quizzes, assignments, group work, IAs, examinations, marking, conducting research, further studies, taking care of family and relatives, students’ negative comments, colleagues’ negative comments, and economic pressure.
What are some of the mental hygiene practices?
- Eat a healthy diet (Eat a variety – Fruits, vegetables, legumes and nuts, animal source foods, healthy oils, whole grains and tubers)
- Do some physical activity (at least 30 minutes a day)
- Rest well/Sleep for at least 6-8 hours
- Have healthy conversations/talk about things that excite you.
- Sit with your eyes closed and practice deep breathing regularly
- Find a quiet place to meditate (Phil 4:8). (“Meditate, don’t medicate”)
(Meditation – Focusing attention on any present-moment experience in a non-judgmental way, Kabat-Zinn, 2003).
- Look in the mirror, make and observe your facial expressions
- Get a pet(s), observe their behaviour, and play with them
- Sit or rest in a comfortable position, put on your relaxing music and really listen to it
- Admire and appreciate nature, take a walk in a green space
- Be genuinely thankful for things
- Learn a musical instrument
- Religious activities e.g., prayer
- Avoid a lot of noise, stay calm
- Brainstorm ideas/innovate/critical thinking.
- Just Dance
- Join the Royal Mental Hygiene Challenge
Credit: Mr. Reginald Arthur-Mensah Jnr
Regarding the practices, faculty members were encouraged to be intentional with them to reap the utmost benefits for themselves and their work in the University. The Vice-chancellor, Prof. Kwabena Agyapong-Kodua, also contributed an immense wealth of biblical principles and experience to buttress the scientific presentation. Faculty members left the presentation well-informed and energized with a renewed mindset to be mindful to take care of their mental health. The conclusion of the matter is that there is no health without mental health.