Mental health is more than the presence or absence of a mental illness. People with a diagnosable mental illness are not necessarily mentally unhealthy. Having a mental illness may only mean that the person needs to work harder at maintaining mental health than some people. What does it mean to be mentally healthy?
Some people who do not have a mental illness are still not mentally healthy. Some people have difficulty managing stress to the point that it affects them physically in the form of heart disease, headaches, and upset stomach. Some people struggle to control their anger and express it appropriately. This can lead to turmoil in relationships and even problems with the law.
Many people are so concerned with being liked by others that they lack the ability to say “no” to their requests. Addiction is a common problem that affects mental health whether it is an addiction to illicit drugs, alcohol, food, or video games. So, even without a mental illness, mental health affects the person’s life.
Mental health is balance and stability that allows the person to enjoy life, achieve goals, and have a healthy self-esteem. A person with mental health can communicate with others without trying to make other appear less intelligent or skilled than themselves.
Communication is also affected by low self-esteem. A person with low self-esteem may concede to the other’s opinion or desires even if the person disagrees or has personal needs that should have priority over the other person’s request.
A person who is mentally healthy is able to cope with stress and hardships in a proactive manner using healthy coping skills. Examples of healthy coping skills include discussing problems with a friend, exercise, modes of self-expression like art or writing, and using a hobby or goal to focus on positive things in their lives.
People often cause undue stress on themselves by having unattainable expectations. Others do not pursue goals that would match their abilities and settle into a comfortable, yet unfulfilling existence. Mentally healthy people have realistic expectations of themselves and others.
When a person has good mental health, the person’s attitudes, emotions, and perceptions are not interfering with the ability to live a full life. The mentally healthy person is able to cope with disappointment and difficulties.
Even a mentally healthy person may occasionally have the need to consult a professional therapist. A mentally healthy person is able to accept help when necessary.