Everyone has mental health and your mental health is just as important as your physical health.
Mental health is a state of wellbeing which is necessary for living a healthy life and is important in overall health. Mental health is a balance of the mental, physical, spiritual, social, economic and emotional aspects of life that gives everyone—even the most vulnerable or mentally ill—an opportunity to live as a whole and healthy individual.
Mental health and mental illness are not the same. Many believe that mental health and mental illness are at opposite extremes. However, these are separate but interconnected concepts. We should consider them as two distinct continuums. The mental health continuum model illustrates that a person without a mental illness is not necessarily in good mental health, and vice versa. It’s also important to understand that everyone lies somewhere along the mental health continuum.
Why is mental health so important?
Mental health is an essential part of overall health and well-being.
Mental health affects a person’s coping skills, self-esteem and resiliency. These are key attributes that contribute to one’s ability to handle difficulties in life, move forward in a positive way after experiencing an undesirable situation, as well as fosters a sense of confidence and self-worth. It is also helpful in creating healthy relationships with those around you, interacting within your community as well as understanding and voicing your needs and wants.
Not only does having positive mental health improve one’s emotional strength, it also has the potential to improve one’s physical health and the outcomes of both physical and mental illnesses.
Improve your mental health with the Five Ways to Well-being
There are a many elements that influence a person’s level of personal well-being, and the things we do and the way we think can have the greatest impact. To help improve or support your mental health, try including the Five Ways of Well-being into your daily life. The Five Ways to Well-Being is a set of five simple, free, and achievable actions which can improve well-being in everyday life.
Five Ways to Well-being
How the 5 ways to wellbeing work together to contribute to good functioning:
Connect: Talk and listen. Be there. Feel connected.
Feeling close to and valued by others is a basic human need that contributes to positive mental health and well-being. Feeling connected to those around you also acts as buffer against mental illness.
Take Notice: Appreciate the little things that give you joy.
Taking notice is to be present in the moment. Being mindful is associated with positive mental states, and heightens self-understanding. This allows you to make positive choices which are consistent with your values, about your life priorities.
Be Active: Move your mood. Do what you can. Enjoy what you do.
Daily physical activity has vital benefits to your physical health. Being active is also associated with lower risk of depression and anxiety as well as an increase in overall wellbeing and diminished negative thoughts.
Keep Learning: Embrace new experiences. See opportunities. Surprise yourself.
Learning has a positive impact on a person’s sense of well-being especially when the learning is linked with personal motivations and values.
Give: Your time. Your words. Your presence.
There is an association with a greater sense of self-worth, positive feelings, happiness and life satisfaction in those who actively participate in social and community life by helping, sharing and giving together.
To learn more about how you can improve or maintain good mental health visit our Promoting Mental Health in Adults resource.
Five Ways to Well-being –Simple Steps to Improve Your Mental Well-being developed by the Southern Health and Social Care Trust, Northern Ireland 2013.
Five Ways to Well-being’ Foresight Report developed by the New Economics Foundation 2008.