As May is Mental Health Awareness Month, in this blogpost we’ll be exploring the definition of mental health and nine tips to help improve it.
There are several interrelated definitions of good mental health. For example, from a European neuropsychopharmacology group, good mental health can be defined as a state of well-being that allows individuals to cope with the normal stresses of life and function productively.
Others have defined good mental health as the ability both to value life and to engage in life.
Valuing life refers not just to your own life but to the lives of those you love and regarding their lives as valuable both to you and independently of you. It means wanting to care for yourself and your loved ones.
Engaging in life, in turn, means the ability to behave differently depending on your circumstances, instead of expecting everything to bend to your will. It can mean noticing your feelings but neither relying on them to guide you nor ignoring them.
Having a positive mental state also affects one’s physical state. Research conducted in 2003 by Cohen, Doyle, Turner, et. al., demonstrated that study participants who reported positive emotions like happiness and satisfaction had lower risks of catching a cold virus than those who reported negative emotions like depression and loneliness. In other research conducted by Kim et al in 2013 showed that people with a firm purpose in life faced a reduced risk of coronary disease.
In the field of mental health, a relatively new psychological discipline has recently emerged. Defined as “positive psychology” or the “psychology of human flourishing”, it is based upon identifying and strengthening the positive aspects of human experience, such as authentic happiness, hope, motivation, empathy, and self-esteem, which research has shown enhances wellbeing.
According to Positive Psychology, there are four aspects of this wellbeing:
The pleasant life.
Consisting of positive emotions and the drive to do things that enhance pleasure and self-satisfaction.
The engaged life
Where a person preoccupies themself with deeper insight into their emotions and character strengths and models their life accordingly.
The meaningful life
In which the individual achieves a heightened sense of self and seeks the true meaning of happiness.
The achieving life
Where a person is driven to work harder and dedicate themself to achieving their ambitions. In an achieving life, a person derives happiness and a true sense of self from acting on their dreams and making them successful.
Just as you would attend to your physical health, also attend to your mental and emotional health as they are interconnected, affecting your quality of life.
Do you have a growth mindset? Find out by taking this quick quiz.