The Canadian Mental Health Association of B.C. has identified a week in May that focuses on raising awareness about mental health. But what is mental health? Is it just “being in a good mood, cheerful and optimistic?” or “not feeling down and blue?” There is a wide range between these two extremes and mental health means much more than that.
In fact, mental health encompasses those situations where people are experiencing severe and chronic situations of distress such as suicide for example or psychosis, when a person is hallucinating, but also those situations where people are just not “unhappy” but definitely not “happy”, i.e. a job/relationship or situation that is unfulfilling.
The Canadian Mental Health Association has listed 6 elements of overall good mental health on their website. Freedom from anxiety or fear; attaining personal potential; enjoyment of life; contribution to society; sense of belonging or community; and resilience or resourcefulness.
The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) has also recognized the importance of sound mental health at work. Statistics show that a mentally healthy employee is a happy, productive employee, which cuts down on workplace absenteeism, helps to increase production at work and build teams and reduces safety risks and cuts down on productivity loss by literally billions of dollars per year, according to studies, such as the above. A mentally healthy employee is far less likely to abuse substances or skip work, just as a depressed worker is far more likely to be inattentive to potentially dangerous situations and far less likely to be fully productive.
The CCOHS has also listed ten general tips on their website for good mental health which include:
- Build confidence – by accepting weakness and building on strengths
- Eating right, keeping fit and getting enough sleep
- Making time for family and friends
- Giving, but also being able to accept, support
- Creating a meaningful budget – i.e. taking care of business, especially financial concerns
- Managing stress
- Finding strength in numbers – connecting with others who may be going through similar experiences as yourself
- Identifying and dealing with moods
- Learning to be at peace with yourself
Perhaps you might choose to… do one or more things this month that will support your well-being
- What would you say you are currently doing that protects and develops your emotional and mental well-being?
- What one thing might you consider spending more time and energy doing to build mental health resiliency and distress tolerance?