What is mental health?
The term ‘mental health’ is often used to describe conditions like depression and anxiety, but this narrow definition overlooks its positive aspects. “Mental health exists along a continuum, spanning from mental illness through to good mental health and wellbeing,” says Dr Haley LaMonica, Clinical Neuropsychologist at the Brain and Mind Centre.
Our mental health impacts our ability to think, feel and behave in a way that helps us to perform at our best – in our personal lives with family and friends, at university, at work, and in the community.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) stresses that mental health is not simply an absence of mental ill health but is “… a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.”
“There can be many influences on our mental health including interpersonal relationships, physical health, problem-solving skills and access to support,” Dr LaMonica explains. “Plus, we all have experiences in life that can impact on it too, such as stress related to performance at school or work, a family member with a serious illness, a break-up, or financial struggles.”
“Learning strategies to help foster resilience in the face of life’s challenges, including how and where to access the care and support you need, is an essential step in maintaining good mental health,” she says.