Why ‘better minds’?

By Savindi Subasinghe Peiris

Despite your sex, age, religion, or race, life will be a rollercoaster ride for each and every one of us, with its fair share of ups and downs. It is evident that to face life’s challenges, we must be physically-abled. However, even those who are not physically-abled may still successfully face life’s challenges. How? With the power of the mind.

Therefore, it is of utmost importance that our mind is ready, able, and capable to face all of life’s ups and downs.

We take a great deal of effort in taking care of our body. If we have fever, we take medicine; if a limb is broken, we rush to the hospital. To maintain our ideal body shape, we exercise, undergo surgery, or use shapewear. However, if we don’t feel “right” in our minds, for example, if we feel low, unhappy, worthless, or confused, we hardly do anything about it or we do the wrong thing to cope with it.

In the Better Minds series, each week, we will be discussing about topics on mental health and wellbeing. We will be discussing why it is important and what we can do about it. Further in this series, you have the opportunity to ask any queries via email and suggest any topics you would like to have addressed.

What is mental health?

Mental health is our emotional, psychological, and social wellbeing. Our mental health affects the way we feel, think, and behave. It also affects our physical wellbeing.

Therefore, our mental health affects us ever yday, anytime, anywhere, and at any point in our life from birth to death. Our mental health will determine how we cope with challenges in our day-to-day life, relate to others, and make decisions. Good mental health will help you live a full, productive life with the flexibility to deal with life’s ups and downs.

Unfortunately, despite mental health affecting every aspect of human life, very little prominence is given to it in Sri Lanka. A main reason for this is stigma. In Sri Lanka, many think that mental health means being “mentally unwell/ill”. As described above, mental health does not mean that. We will be discussing this in detail next week.

What is wellbeing?

Most often, we tend to think if we do not have an illness/disease, we are well. However, wellbeing is not merely the absence of an illness/disease – it is a state of complete social, physical, and mental wellbeing, so we can live life to our fullest potential. For example, think of an individual who is overloaded and overwhelmed with work. He works late hours every day and is so busy that he has a quick bite of fast food every day. He is content that although he is working hard, he is staying healthy as he isn’t getting ill. However, he may be at a risk of heart disease and diabetes due to stress and unhealthy eating habits. Also, because he does not have time to socialise, he may have problems with his family and friends, and this may make him feel frustrated, lonely, angry, and unhappy.

So, it is evident that this individual isn’t healthy and isn’t living life to his optimum potential. Therefore, in order to maintain wellbeing, we must not only protect ourselves from getting ill, but also push ourselves to be healthy by engaging in exercise, eating nutritious food, meditation, and reducing stress in our day-to-day life.

Savindi Subasinghe Peiris
BSc (Hons) in Psychology (UK), MSc in Clinical Mental Health Sciences (UK)

Savindi Subasinghe Peiris is a psychologist who holds a BSc [Hons] in Psychology [UK] and MSc in Clinical Mental Health Sciences [UK]. She can be contacted via