Understanding Mental Health

Understanding Mental Health

We’re often so focused on preserving our physical health, we can all too easily forget to look after our mental and emotional wellbeing too. July is Mental Illness Awareness Month, which makes it a good time to reflect on your mental health and its importance.

The term “mental health” describes a state of emotional and mental wellbeing that allows you to cope with everyday situations. Mentally healthy people are comfortable with themselves, and are able to manage their emotions (even the difficult ones) in a constructive way.

How Mentally Healthy are You?

Mentally healthy people typically have the following lifestyle characteristics. Read through these characteristics carefully, and ask yourself which of them apply to you.

Relating to themselves:

  • Generally feel good about themselves
  • Not overwhelmed by emotions like fear, anger, jealousy or guilt
  • Take life’s disappointments in their stride
  • Accept their responsibilities
  • Have a tolerant attitude towards themselves and others
  • Able to laugh at themselves
  • Set realistic goals for themselves
  • Don’t underestimate or overestimate their own abilities
  • Accept their own shortcomings
  • Have self-respect
  • Able to enjoy simple, everyday things
  • Adapt and adjust to new challenges
  • Open to new experiences and ideas

Relating to others:

  • Able to form lasting personal relationships
  • Feel comfortable with other people
  • Respect the differences between themselves and others
  • Do not take advantage of others, or allow others to take advantage of them
  • Like and trust others, and feel that others will like and trust them
  • Feel a sense of responsibility to fellow human beings

If you feel that most of the characteristics listed above describe you, you most likely have good mental health. If you struggle to apply these descriptions to yourself however, your mental health might be compromised in some way (by factors like stress, anxiety, depression, grief, or low self-esteem).

Protecting your Mental Health

The ways you deal with life’s problems, and the relationships you maintain with yourself and others, determine your mental health. If you’re struggling to cope with challenges in your everyday life, it’s important to look at your state of mind, and take steps to promote and protect your mental wellbeing. This might simply mean cultivating healthier daily habits; or it could mean seeking professional help from a counsellor or psychologist.

Your mental health affects not only you, but all those you care about and interact with in your day-to-day life. By taking care of your mental health, you can ensure a happier life for yourself and your loved ones.