What is Mental Health Anyway?

That’s a good question isn’t it? Most of the time when people talk about mental health they are talking about mental health treatment or a person who was given a mental health diagnosis, (which is a fancy name for describing what symptoms a person has), but that isn’t what mental health is either.

Mental Health has a lot of different parts. It is our sense of well-being. How we think, how we act and how we feel about ourselves.  It is looking at the complete picture of who you are, what is happening around you and how it does or does not change your thoughts about who you are.  The most important part is that EVERYONE has mental health.  It is a part of who we are as human beings. 

How do we figure out what our mental health is?

Let’s look at the different parts…think of it like a circle with all of these things around it.

circle2Emotions:  Do you spend a lot of time being happy, smiling, laughing?

Your mind:  Are you satisfied, content, at peace with yourself and others? Do you like yourself and who you are?

Your thoughts: Do you think about how happy you are with yourself? Are you proud of yourself?  Do you say to yourself “way to go”, “I am wonderful”, “I am a great person”, “I really did well”, “I did the best that I could and that’s okay” or other thoughts that make you feel worthwhile?

Your Body:  Is your body physically fit? The correct weight?  Does your body feel calm and at ease?  Are you okay with your body?  Is it good enough, pretty/handsome enough? Does it do what you want it to do when you want it to?

Your immediate world:  Do you have family/friends that cheer you up and that you feel you can talk to about anything?  Is everything going well at school/work/your family/your neighborhood?  Do you have beliefs or a religion or go to a church, synagogue, mosque, prayer group or other where you are accepted for who you are?  Do you follow certain beliefs about your culture – learned from your family, by following certain holidays -Christmas, Hannukah, Ramadan,…or by celebrating 4th of July, having a birthday party to celebrate another year of life; being raised to know what foods to eat or not to eat, what clothes to wear, how to talk to others, etc.?

Your greater world:  Are you satisfied how your State or how the government is being run?  With the environment and climate change?   With how your country and other countries deal with each other?  Do you think about this at all? A little?  A lot????

In General:  Do you feel that life is okay or even great!  Do you feel okay with yourself and who you are?  When you do get upset – sad and cry, angry and throw a tantrum or yell or when you are frustrated raise your voice, throw things, hit something or not want anyone to be around you, is it only for short periods of time and then you feel better? As you grow older do you change how you react to others?  Do you feel in control of yourself and your actions?

In the circle, all of these things coming together to change how you feel about yourself, which changes how you behave, which affects your mental health.  The wonderful part is that your mental health changes daily and, if you are not satisfied, you can change. 

So, if you are doing well, can control yourself, talk to others and feel happy with yourself, then your mental health is fine.  If however, you are not and that ongoing worries, are sad or upset most of the time, don’t feel alright with yourself, you are not alone. There are many people that have difficulty with their mental health. A mental health specialist – therapist, counselor can help get you back on track and feeling better about yourself.


Author: Cynthia Booker-Bingler, LCSW, Health Affiliates Maine

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