What is mental health?

Our mental health requires as much care and attention as our physial health. 

Despite being used almost every day, the term ‘mental health’ is frequently misunderstood.

Unfortunately, ‘mental health’ is often used as a substitute for mental health conditions – such as depression, anxiety, schizophrenia and others.

But the World Health Organisation, describes mental health as “a state of wellbeing in which every individual realises his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.”
Inspiringly, ‘mental health’ is about wellness rather than illness.

Connect Health & Community’s Senior Practioner - Mental Health, Effie Sougias, says the benefits of staying mentally well are almost limitless.
“Research shows that high levels of mental health are associated with increased learning, creativity and productivity, enjoying more social behaviour and positive social relationships, and improved physical health and life expectancy,” she said.

However, Ms Sougias said we are seeing a significant increase in young people experiencing multiple challenges with respect to their mood and overall health.

“Many young people come to us with concerns and challenges, asking, ‘Am the only one experiencing this?’ or saying, ‘I feel so alone’.  At times these commonly misunderstood feelings are leading to risk-taking behaviour as a way of coping,” she said.

But in a society where we have become obsessed with staying connected via social media, Ms Sougias said we have a responsibility to encourage personal discussions on mental health, and mentor our young people to recognise and understand the importance of good health and open conversation.

“Being open and honest about what we are experiencing in life is vital, and there are five simple steps we can all take you can take today to help improve our mental health,” she said.

5 Steps To Better Mental Health

  • Eat well and exercise
  • Build and maintain meaningful relationships – never underestimate the importance of informal connections with friends, family and co-workers;
  • Explore ways you can destress - perhaps through mindfulness, meditation or taking time out for yourself;
  • Participate in an activity you enjoy; and
  • Take notice and be present – recognise and don’t dismiss signs and symptoms that you are not okay.

But she cautioned that mental health is complex.

“The fact that someone is not experiencing a mental health condition doesn’t necessarily mean their mental health is flourishing.  Likewise, it’s possible to be diagnosed with a mental health condition while feeling and managing well in many aspects of life,” she said.

“Mental health is about being cognitively, emotionally and socially healthy – the way we think, feel, develop and maintain relationships - and not merely the absence of a mental health condition.  It is a personal and a community issue that we all need to work on, and keep revisiting,” she said.

Connect Health & Community provides a range of support services to help you and your family if you feel your mental health is not what it could be.
Our Mental Health services are available to help you at any life-stage including, but not limited to:

  • Depression and anxiety
  • Youth Counselling and support
  • Relationship issues
  • Family conflict
  • Parenting issues
  • Child related developmental issues
  • Chronic illness
  • Social isolation
  • Grief and loss
  • Carer issues
Of course, the sooner you seek help for your concerns, the better.  Contact us today.

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