Positive Mental Health
By Dr. Donna Ferguson, Psychologist with the WSIB Psychological Trauma Program
What is positive mental health and why should we focus on it? According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, mental health is more than the absence of a mental health condition or illness; it is a positive sense of well-being, or the capacity to enjoy life and deal with the challenges we face.
Why is important for us to have or achieve positive mental health.
Individuals who are emotionally healthy can effectively control their emotions and their behavior. They are able to handle life’s challenges, build strong relationships. But it is not easy to build and maintain emotional and mental health, as it is not easy for us to maintain and build our physical health. Improving your emotional health can be a rewarding experience, benefiting all aspects of your life, including boosting mood, building resilience, and helping you to enjoy life.
According to the Canadian Mental Health Survey (CCHS), Mental Health 2012, based on Canadian self-reported data; 82% of adults are happy almost every day or every day, 82% of adults are satisfied with life almost every day or every day and 70% of adults have high psychological well-being.
There are benefits of having positive mental health such as being able to build and maintain relationships and dealing with difficulties that come along the way. It is important to note that being emotionally or mentally healthy does not necessarily mean being free from anxiety or depression or other mental health issues. It is more about finding ways to do things or think of ways to challenge negative feelings in order to assist with achieving a positive sense of well-being and to continuing with recovery.
Factors Affecting Positive Mental Health
Certain factors can positively impact mental health, including family support, social support, and having strong social networks, and having strong community ties. Society can also have negative affects on mental health as well in terms of issues related to stigma and how individuals feel accepted and/or embraced by others or potentially discriminated against
How do we achieve Positive Mental Health?
Here are a few tips on achieving positive mental health, but these are by no means the only ways to do so:
- Manage your stress levels
- Good sleep hygiene, in terms of getting adequate rest, is an important part of coping with stress.
- Take time for yourself or decide what you want to do for yourself, and do it. (i.e. plan a spa or massage, relax by reading a book, set aside time to watch a favourite show, jump on Pinterest and pin some things that make you happy, etc.)
- Exercise can reduce tension and anxiety, and has been shown to increase endorphins and in turn endorphins stimulate the immune system as well.
- Find things to do that positively impact others, like volunteering, which helps us achieve positive mental health, and gives us opportunities to share experiences with like-minded people.
- Having a work/life balance is important, as work has a tendency of taking over one’s life. There is always a project or something else that must be completed, so include yourself in your priority list.
While there are many more ways to stay positive and to manage your mental health, sometimes we can’t do it alone. Having social support definitely helps, but there are times when we need to go beyond and seek help from professionals – and it’s important for everyone to know that there is no shame in doing so. Mental health goes beyond just being an absence of mental illness. It reflects a positive sense of well-being, and the capacity to enjoy life while dealing with challenges. Make sure to celebrate your mental health, and stay positive.