Mental health includes our psychological, emotional and social wellbeing. It is about how we feel and think as we go about our daily lives. Mental health determines the choices we make, how we handle stress and how we relate to others.
Having good mental health is brought about through a sense of self, self-esteem and confidence. It is important to have good mental health at every stage of our lives, from childhood, through to adolescence, and moving forward into adulthood.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) says, ‘Mental health is a state of wellbeing in which the individual realises his or her own abilities and potential.’ When we come to realise our own abilities, we’re able to cope better with the normal stresses of life, will start and continue to make positive contributions to our lives and will work productively. (Source: https://www.who.int)
According to estimates, only about seventeen per cent of US adults are considered to have optimal mental health. Mental illness contributes to problems with behaviour, thinking and moods. Mental illness may be genetic, but life experiences can also affect mental health.
A family history of stress and abuse, both physical and emotional can contribute to mental health issues. When interactions between the mind, body and environment begin to interfere and undermine our ability to cope with simple situations, then we know we’re potentially looking at mental illness. Factors that contribute are acute or long-term stress, emotional abuse, drug and alcohol abuse, violence and family breakdowns.
Those with good mental health will automatically cope with stress and will continue to make meaningful contributions to their lives and to other people. They will realise and see their full potential. It is important for us individually to maintain and work on our mental health.
We cannot assume we will always have good mental health, but by choosing to connect with ourselves and others, we will continue to strengthen our resolve and perhaps at some point go on to help other people.
For those dealing with mental health issues including depression, it is important to try to develop coping skills, to remain in a familiar and comfortable daily routine, and to get enough sleep. It is also important to be physically active and talk about how you feel so that others are aware of your struggles.