Our Mental Health – Wellness rather than Illness
By Tim Hoopmann
MENTAL health is often used as a substitute for mental health conditions – such as depression and anxiety conditions. According to the World Health Organization, mental health is “a state of well-being 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”.
Wellness rather than illness. To make things a bit clearer, some experts have tried coming up with different terms to explain the difference between ‘mental health’ and ‘mental health conditions’. Phrases such as ‘good mental health’, ‘positive mental health’, ‘mental wellbeing’, and even ‘happiness’ are used to emphasise that mental health is about wellness rather than illness.
Rather than being about ‘what’s the problem?’, it’s about ‘what’s going well?’.
Mental health is not fixed or in a static state, and we can move back and forth along this scale at different times during our lives.
At the flourishing end of the continuum, people are well; showing resilience and high levels of wellbeing. Moving into the healthy area, people may start to have difficulty coping. In the at risk, struggling area, people have more difficulty coping and symptoms may increase in severity and frequency. At the severe impact end of the continuum, people are likely to be experiencing severe symptoms and may need immediate help.
It’s important to remember 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 well in many aspects of life.
Ultimately, mental health is about being cognitively, emotionally, and socially healthy – and taking care of our mental health is something we must work on daily.
Beyond Blue support service is accessible via phone 1300 224 636 or visit beyondblue.org.au