You only have to search the internet to get numerous explanations of what mental health is.  Remember that mental health is positive as it refers to health not ill-health.

My preferred definition is the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) explains –

Mental health is defined as a state of well-being in which every individual realizes 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.

So if we know what mental health means, then what are mental health issues?

Mental health issues are when our state of mental health is poor or suffering or in need of some form of support.  Mental health issues are prevalent when we notice symptoms that cause us to feel unsettled within ourselves and our lives, when we know that we’ve been feeling different or behaving differently to our own usual way for a prolonged period.  Sometimes it only needs to have been for more than a week or two, other mental health diagnosis rely on symptoms having been present for months.  What I would say is that you know yourself best and if you sense symptoms are more than just a fleeting moment, seek support and ask for help.

Mental Health symptoms may arise due to a single challenging life experience or a series of challenges, they may be the result of physical injury or due to our physiological genetic make-up.

Just as with physical health, there is a wide range of mental health issues that we may be affected by and within each particular diagnosis there are sliding degrees of spectrum intensity.

Every single person with any level mental capacity will experience some degree of mental ill-health many times during their life.  This does not mean we will all be diagnosed with a mental health issue, it just means we are all susceptible to feeling different within and of ourselves from one day to the next during our lifetime.  As we grow, develop, age, live we experience change and with change comes a mixed bag of emotions.

Having a few days of feeling out of sorts does not mean you have a mental health issue.  It might mean that you are finding it difficult to manage, albeit mentally, emotionally or social.  However, that is natural and usually what you are experiencing dissolves as you are able to work through the challenge or whatever has generated change and you find yourself feeling back to your usual self again relatively quickly.

A mental health issue is when the difficulty continues to become harder to cope with, it starts to impact on day-to-day activities and you notice other areas of your life being affected.

This is a real warning sign to share what you are experiencing with someone else and seek the support you might be in need of.

Cautionary note, if you even remotely think what you are experiencing might be a result of a physical injury or physiological illness seek medical attention immediately, do not wait even a day, as there is always the possibility of other serious conditions and in those instances, every minute counts.

How come wellbeing is discussed in and around the topic of mental health?

For me wellbeing incorporates our whole being: physically, mentally, emotionally and socially.

Physical health pertains to our bodily ability to be able to operate and function to a certain standardised level

Mental health is about our ability to be cognitive – that is to be able to think, speak, process information and communicate successfully.

Social health refers to our behavioural capabilities.  It involves our interactions with others, sharing in our societies, creating sustainable relationships.  As inter-dependent being this is a vital element.

Emotional health is about how we interpret, hold and incorporate the other 3 health dimensions into ourselves and our life.  It is our own unique blend of how we feel, sense and intuit the world in which we exist and how we choose to be in that environment.

Why is emotional health so important?

It is my belief that our emotional health is the key to maintaining and sustaining our physical and mental health.

Stress is a prime example of how our emotions play a pivotal role in our physical health.

When we become stressed we begin to notice that we don’t ‘feel’ comfortable within our self and as our emotions alter, our ability to think is not as clear and easy, certain social setting may frustrate us and signs of physical illness arise – headaches, flu, high blood pressure, accident prone

Anxiety is another great example of how our emotions hold the key to our mental health.

As most know, anxiety is generally an imagined or perceived fear.  That’s not to say what the sufferer is experiencing isn’t real, because it is very real for them.  What it means is that the anxiety sufferer has generally created an imagined or perceived set of ‘what if’ scenarios in their mind that they begin to believe will happen.  Sometimes it may have actually happened in the past and it is extremely hard to believe it won’t happen over and over again and for others the possibility that it may happen becomes very real and definitive. Inevitably a real fear becomes associated with that belief.  Simply it is the real fear that gains power and disables the suffer’ s ability to think rationally in relation to the scenario for which the anxiety is attached.  Hence the anxiety sufferer struggles with rational thought processing which can grow and impact many other areas of that person’s life socially and physically as well.

Ultimately to manage and sustain your positive mental health, check in with your emotions.  Do it right now….

Ask yourself how you feel right now?

Has this reading this blog trigger anything for you?

It doesn’t matter if it is – satisfaction…..curiousity….frustration….relief….nothing…something….

Whatever you feel is right for you right now.  Perhaps you’ve become aware of some sort of stress you’re holding within yourself, simply acknowledging that awareness is a step towards strengthening your own emotional health and inevitably sustaining your wellbeing. #preventMHI @mutuworld