Keeping mentally healthy

 

What is mental health?

It is important to recognise that mental health is more than simply the absence of psychological disorder. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), being mentally healthy is realising your potential and being able to cope with the normal stresses of life, as well as working productively to make a contribution to your community. Resilience is an important part of being mentally healthy. It is the ability to cope with and recover from adverse events or circumstances.

Why should you look after your mental health?

Mental health and wellbeing is something we should all strive for. As the WHO says, ‘there is no health without mental health.’ Being mentally healthy is as important as being physically healthy.

Resilience is an important part of being mentally healthy. It is the ability to cope with and recover from adverse events or circumstances. You can develop your own resilience, in order to better prepare yourself to deal with stressful events should they occur.

Why should you help others to look after their mental health?

We all have people we care about, and encouraging others to look after their mental health is a great way to show love and support. Helping others is also beneficial to our own mental health, so get involved and lead by example.


Tips for keeping mentally healthy

→ Connect

Maintaining good relationships with other people, belonging to a group or club, providing help and accepting help from others when you need it, are all great ways to promote resilience and stay mentally healthy.
Encouraging others to get involved and connect with people is a great way to support their mental health and wellbeing. So, keep in touch, join in and support your own mental health as well as those around you.

→ Set goals

Setting realistic goals, both short and long-term, can give us something to look forward to and to work towards. Goal setting can be a particularly positive step to take in the face of adversity, when things may otherwise seem overwhelming. Looking towards the future, particularly in tough times, can help you to move forward in a more positive way.

Adverse events and circumstances are sometimes out of our control, but we do have ultimate control over how we prepare, interpret and respond to them. If we avoid seeing crises as insurmountable problems, we can begin to move forward towards recovery. However, goal setting is not only important in times of adversity. The feeling of accomplishment which occurs when we achieve our goals is beneficial to our mental health at any time.

Encourage others to set realistic goals and challenges for themselves. The sense of accomplishment felt when they achieve their goals is likely to have a positive effect on their mental health and wellbeing.

→ Accept change

Change is a fact of life. It is important for our mental health and for building resilience that we accept the things that we cannot change and move our focus to those parts of life of which we have more control.

→ Take action

Doing things you enjoy promotes positive mental health and wellbeing, so take a walk, ring a friend or do a crossword. Taking decisive actions is also important in dealing with adverse events or circumstances, rather than avoiding or detaching from problems or stresses.
Another way to build resilience and mental health and wellbeing is to find personal strategies, such as journal writing, meditation or spiritual practices that help you to thrive.

Help people find their own personal strategies, such as journal writing, meditation or spiritual practices, which help them to thrive.

→ Be positive

Accept who you are and identify opportunities for learning or personal growth. People often learn from adverse events or circumstances, and gain confidence in themselves and their ability to respond. Trusting yourself and maintaining a positive self-image is important in both developing resilience and being mentally healthy.

Give honest and constructive compliments and encourage people to consider their strengths and positive attributes. Help them to identify opportunities for learning and growth.

→ Maintain perspective

When things go wrong, try to maintain a long-term perspective and avoid blowing events out of proportion. Adopt an optimistic outlook, accept the facts and try to recognise the positive aspects of every situation.

→ Look after yourself

Try to eat well, drink responsibly, take a break and consider your own needs and feelings. Looking after your own mental health and wellbeing is important in being able to help others. So, engage in activities that you enjoy, and prioritise your physical and mental health and wellbeing.
Acknowledge when things aren’t right and seek help if you need it.

   

If you are worried about someone’s mental health or in need of immediate crisis support, there are places you can contact to seek help and advice. See our list of support services here. 

 


 

1. American Psychological Association. The road to resilience. Washington DC,2013 [6 August 2013]; Available from: http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/road-resilience.aspx.
2. Mental Health Foundation. 10 Ways to Look After Your Mental Health. [6 August 2013]; Available from: http://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/help-information/10-ways-to-look-after-your-mental-health/.
3. Mentally Healthy WA. Keeping Mentally Healthy. 2013 [6 August 2013]; Available from: http://www.actbelongcommit.org.au/images/keeping%20mentally%20healthy.pdf.
4. World Health Organisation. Mental health: strengthening our response. Geneva (Fact Sheet No.220) 2010.