We all have mental health and there is no health without mental health. As part of Mental Health Awareness Week 2017 I am presenting a series of articles covering a variety of issues around mental health to increase our knowledge of the subject in general. The more we know the more we can decrease the stigma and discrimination surrounding mental health. Let’s get started.
So What is Mental Health?
A good starting point is with some definitions:
Mental health influences how we think and feel about ourselves and others and how we interpret events. It affects our capacity to learn, to communicate and to form, sustain and end relationships. It also influences our ability to cope with change, transition and life events: having a baby, moving house, experiencing bereavement. (Dr Lynne Friedli, 2004)
Mental health is part of our overall health – a good barometer for the quality of our mental health is shown by (MHFA England):
- How we feel, think and behave
- How we cope with the ups and downs of everyday life
- How we feel about ourselves and our life
- How we see ourselves and our future
- How we deal with negative things that happen in our life
- Our self-esteem or confidence
- How stress affects us
Mental health is the emotional and spiritual resilience which enables us to enjoy life and to survive pain, disappointment and sadness. It is a positive sense of well-being and an underlying belief in our own, and other’s dignity and worth. (HEA, 1997)
Mental health is a level of psychological wellbeing, or an absence of mental illness. It is the “psychological state of someone who is functioning at a satisfactory level of emotional and behavioral adjustment” (WordNet Search, Princeton University). From the perspective of positive psychology or holism, mental health may include an individual’s ability to enjoy life, and create a balance between life activities and efforts to achieve psychological resilience. (Wikipedia)
In short we can sum up mental health as everything that has happened to us in the past that has set us up for how we respond to events and issues today. That response can be emotional (how we feel), physical (what happens in our body) and mental (what we think about it).
Future articles will cover the impact of mental ill-health, when is a behaviour a problem and what symptoms to look for in various illnesses.