Mental health is a term used frequently, but have you ever sat down to consider what it means to you?
Like physical health, mental health is a continuum. You might have an illness (such as depression or anxiety), you may be illness free – but just be getting by, or you may be experiencing a high level of wellbeing – which is often referred to as thriving.
Most people move up and down this continuum at different times in their life due to individual habits, external circumstances or genetic predisposition.
We know each year about 1 in 4 people will move down the continuum to the point they have a diagnosable mental illness, almost half of all people will develop a mental illness in their lifetime.
Like physical health, everyone can take positive steps to not only reduce their likelihood of developing an illness, but also optimise their level of wellbeing. Everyone knows the pillars of good physical health. They include: a healthy diet, regular exercise, getting enough good quality sleep, not smoking, and drinking alcohol in moderation. By practicing these positive behaviours you are likely to experience a high level of physical wellbeing, and be less susceptible to illness and disease.
However if you were asked: “what are the pillars of good mental health?” – would you know the answer?
In addition to remaining physically healthy, psychologists have identified five pillars of good mental health. These include; experiencing positive emotions, participating in activities that fully engage you, enjoying positive relationships with others, having a sense of meaning or purpose, and experiencing satisfaction associated with accomplishment. The better you do in these five areas – the greater your mental wellbeing and quality of life is likely to be.
Remember, mental health is a continuum – and like your physical health, you have the power to take positive steps to not only remain free from mental illness, but to thrive.
What steps will you take today to optimise your mental health?