Recently, many have recognized that mental health is more than the absence of mental illness. Most people don’t suffer from mental illness; however, it is apparent that some individuals are mentally healthier than others. Defining mental health seems a little more difficult than defining mental illness because there is no manual or association assigned to define it. A few characteristics that do typify mental health however include: the ability to enjoy life (positive attitude), resilience (coping well with stress), living a balanced life, flexibility (in opinions & emotions), and self-actualization (reaching one’s potential).
The World Health Organization defines mental health as “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.” Promoting Mental health: Concepts, Emerging evidence, Practice: A report of the World Health Organization, Department of Mental health and Substance Abuse in collaboration with the Victorian Health Promotion Foundation and the University of Melbourne. World Health Organization. Geneva.)
One’s mental health is very important. Good mental health helps individuals enjoy life and cope with problems. It offers a feeling of well being and inner strength. Just as individuals take care of their bodies by eating right and exercising, they can do things to protect their mental health. In fact, eating right and exercising can help maintain good mental health. People don’t automatically achieve good mental health just because they don’t have mental health illness. They have to work to keep their minds healthy. Healthy nutrition, exercise, good stress management, as well as getting adequate sleep help maintain good mental health.