How to Have Good Mental Health?
By Katrina Holgate Miller, PhD
How to Have Good Mental Health I: What is GoodMental Health?
Let’s talk about your mental health.
Note your initial reaction to that suggestion.What do you expect when someone wants totalk about your mental health? In our society, people often expect to hear some kind of criticism. The little man or woman insidemay be accusing me of thinking you arecrazy.Pay attention—I want to talk about your mental health —your mental and emotional assets. I believe that discussions aboutanything “mental” in our society should begin with assets—so that all parties come tothe table with the understanding that people are not labels. Any person, who has ever had a condition such as depression, bipolar, anxiety, schizophrenia etc., must separatethe diagnosis from their definition of themselves.
So what is mental health?
This question has been a question of hot debate since people began thinking abouttheir thinking. In the past, mental health, as well as health in general, was defined asthe absence of a disease or illness. This definition would define someone who spendstheir day doing nothing more than watching television as “mentally healthy” whenthey have the capacity to do much more.Current definitions of mental health involve behaviors of coping, productivity, andquality connections with others.
1. The World Health Organization definition (World Health Organization 2007):
“A state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, cancope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is ableto make a contribution to his or her community.”
2. The Surgeon General of the United States definition (Department of Health and Human Services 1999):
“The successful performance of mental function, resulting in productive activities, fulfilling relationships with other people, and the ability to adapt to change and copewith adversity.”