Health, is generally defined by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” This implies that one’s wellness is not judged by the absence of disease but rather by their level of wellbeing. By extension, mental health is characterized by more than just the absence of mental disorders or conditions.
According to WHO, “Mental health is a state of well-being in which an individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.” Mental health is crucial to the existence and survival of individuals and societies because it affects how people relate, work and function. It is therefore important that societies, individuals and nations work through various means to safeguard the mental health of individuals. This may not be clearly achieved without the knowledge of the things that influence mental health.
Like every other component of human life, mental health is influenced by psychological, biological and social factors. These factors sometimes work together to influence mental health of individuals. In other contexts, these factors work alone to influence mental health. Biological factors such as genetics are often a determinant of mental health and susceptibility to certain mental health conditions such as schizophrenia and depression. For certain individuals, their personality and socio-economic status makes them predisposed to experience certain mental conditions. For instance, people that face high forms of socio-economic pressures tend to enjoy low forms of mental health. Bad or stressful work conditions, physical ill-health, discrimination and rapid social change often results in poor mental health.
Promoting Positive Mental Health
Stay Positive. Rather than focus on the low points of their lives, it is important to encourage people to learn from their low points and move on to reshape their lives. Maintaining positivity helps the individual to stay active and hopeful, looking ahead for better opportunities to achieve more in life. On the contrary, when one is fixated on negativity, they lose energy and hope, beating themselves up for their failures and throw up their hands in despair. They fail to take charge of their situation.
Connect with others. The saying, “No man is an island”, emphasizes the need for community and human relation. Maintaining contact with other people has proven to be a way of keeping negativity out of the mind (sometimes for a few hours). It reminds one of the beauty of life and gives one the invaluable opportunity to share their challenges with other people. Letting off some steam by speaking about one’s challenges may help clear up pent-up emotions and eventually result in their wellness.
Get professional help. Many people dismiss advice to see a mental health professional on the grounds of absence of a mental health condition. However, seeing a mental health professional does not necessarily suggest that one is suffering from a mental health condition or disorder. Seeing a professional actually suggests that one is responsible and proactive enough to take charge of his or her mental health or wellbeing. It goes a long way to maintain one’s mental health
In our communities and various groups, we must continue to advocate and promote positive mental health. Positive mental health results in people working more effectively and productively, they are able to fully harness their abilities and capabilities and make meaningful contributions to society. Don’t focus only on your physical health. Your mental health is also your asset and your wealth. Protect it.