About mental health

Mental health is … ´the emotional and spiritual resilience which allows us to enjoy life and survive pain, disappointment and sadness. It is a positive sense of well-being and an underlying belief in our own, and others, dignity and worth.´ (Health Education Authority 1997)

What is mental health?

Sometimes people are not sure what mental health is and feel a bit afraid of it. Think about physical health. That doesn’t have the same negative impact does it? Our physical health can be good or poor and it can vary from day to day. When our physical health is good we can enjoy life to the full.

At other times we can be unwell and this can last for weeks or months. Or we might be unwell just for a couple of days then we are back to normal. Sometimes our physical health is poor because we haven’t taken good care of ourselves or because we were born with a tendency to certain illnesses. When we are unwell we are likely to have less energy and motivation and find taking part in work or play more difficult.

All of these things are true of mental health. The main difference between physical and mental health is that our emotions, our ability to work and our relationships are the main things to be influenced by our mental health.

When our mental health is positive we can cope with ups and downs. Our mood is stable and we feel optimistic. When we are mentally unwell we may experience mental or emotional pain. Our mood may be low and we might lose confidence in our ability to cope with life´s challenges. Sometimes we can have long term mental health problems, just as we can get longer lasting physical illnesses... and we can recover in much the same way.

Of course the other big difference is that you can´t get a mental health problem from someone else - it isn´t catching like the flu. Physical and mental health have an effect on each other. If your physical health is poor your mental health is likely to be low. If your mental health is poor you are more likely to get physically ill.

The good news is that you can make a difference to your own mental health. Scotland´s Mental Health First Aid is one of the ways that helps you make a difference to your own and other people´s mental health.

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