Good mental health is a sense of confidence, self-esteem and wellbeing. It enables us to fully appreciate and enjoy day-to-day, our environment and other people. When we are mentally healthy we can reach our potential using our abilities, form positive relationships and easy deal with life’s challenges.
A health problem that significantly affects how a person behaves, thinks and interacts with other people is a mental illness. It is diagnosed according to standardized criteria. At some point in their lives, one in 5 Americans will suffer from a mental illness. Mental illnesses are of different types and degrees of severity. Some of the major types are:
- bipolar mood disorder
- personality disorders
- eating disorders
These illnesses may also be referred to as a psychiatric disability, mental impairment or mental disorder. Mental illness results from complex interactions between environment, body and the mind. Factors which can contribute to mental illness are:
- biological factors such as hormones, chemistry and genetics
- use of drugs, alcohol and other substances
- cognitive patterns such as low self-esteem and constant negative thoughts
- social factors such as financial problems, isolation, violence or family breakdown.
These factors can be minimized by a strong and supportive community environment.
Wellbeing and good mental health mean different things to different people and every person has to find their own way to a life that is satisfying and meaningful for them.
Things that can contribute to positive mental health and wellbeing include:
- spending quality time with family and close friends
- finding an activity that is meaningful or working in job, which can provide a sense of purpose
- learning a new skill such as singing, painting, knitting or a foreign language which can provide a sense of achievement and pride
- finding a new hobby (such as playing sport, gardening, cooking, or craft and arts)
- being there for friend in need, caring for animals or giving to others by volunteering
- talk to someone who can provide reassurance and support
- exercising regularly and eating healthily
- spending more time with people who share similar interests
- experiencing new things such as traveling, meeting new people or trying different foods.
Having something to look forward to promotes wellbeing and positive mental health. Find out what works for you, because everyone is different. Get enough sleep, you are more likely to feel worried and stressed, if you are tired. To avoid feeling tired, aim for around 8 hours per night.
If you learn to anticipate problems before they arise, it will help reduce stress and worry. It is important to introduce a regular structure and routine to your days. Setting and achieving goals can give you a sense of purpose in life and can help to organize your time.