Everywhere you turn, there are diseases and lifestyle choices that threaten mental health, admonitions to protect your mental health and emphasis applied to the importance of mental health. What most of these do not do is explain what mental health is. Most people have a general idea of the definition, but it’s not always clearly understood. If you don’t know what mental health really is, how can you make sure that yours is good? With a little clarification, it may become more obvious what steps you need to take in order to protect your mental health and well-being.
Definition. The U.S. National Library of Medicine describes mental health as “how we think, feel and act as we cope with life. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others and make choices.” Good mental health is considered absolutely essential to a long, fulfilling life. No matter how many obligations are cluttering up your life, your concern should always be to your own health and well-being first, because a deterioration of mental health will leave you unable to serve those other demands adequately and efficiently.
Assessment. When you go for a mental health assessment, your doctor will most likely start with a physical examination in order to rule out any type of disease or infection that may be causing mental issues. If no physical cause can be found, you may be asked to answer mental health questionnaires to help determine the nature of your symptoms, as well as work toward finding a diagnosis. Treatment, if any, will depend on the type and severity of the mental health issue.
Promoting good mental health. As social creatures, much of our mental health hinges upon activity and the support of others. Make sure to get plenty of exercise, connect with a support group of friends and family, and take time to do something for yourself. If you have excessive stress levels, a number of effective coping skills may help you deal with and eliminate that stress. In addition, make sure to drink plenty of water and eat a nutritious, well-balanced diet — if the rest of the body isn’t healthy, then the mind can’t be either.