What is good mental health?

Mental Health is “the emotional and spiritual resilience which enables us to enjoy life and survive pain, suffering and disappointment. It is a positive sense of wellbeing and an underlying belief in our and others dignity and worth. It is influenced by our experience and our genetic inheritance.” (World Health Organisation)

‘Mental’ is a word which is seen almost exclusively in negative terms – as a term of abuse in the playground, at work and even in the family.

But we are all ‘mental’ beings – in the same way as we are all ‘physical’ beings. And mental health is just as important as physical health.

If we are to grow and to flourish, if we are to contribute individually and collectively to society, we need to accept that we are ‘mental’ beings with emotional and spiritual needs, as well as physical ones.

Good mental health isn’t just the absence of mental health problems. Individuals with good mental health:

  • develop emotionally, creatively, intellectually and spiritually
  • initiate, develop and sustain mutually satisfying personal relationships
  • face problems, resolve them and learn from them
  • are confident and assertive
  • are aware of others and empathise with them
  • use and enjoy solitude
  • play and have fun
  • laugh, both at themselves and at the world

How can we help ourselves?

We can help ourselves to good mental health in all sorts of ways including:

  • making time to do the things we enjoy
  • taking moderate physical exercise
  • cutting down on coffee, alcohol, nicotine and other addictive substances
  • remembering and celebrating the things we like about ourselves
  • keeping things in perspective
  • developing and sustaining friendships
  • listening to and respecting other people, even if we disagree with them
  • asking for help if we feel distressed or upset
  • listening to other people who say they feel distressed or upset
  • taking as much care of ourselves as we do the people we care for