Mental Health is a term used to describe either a level of cognitive or emotional wellbeing or an absence of mental illness. From perspectives of the discipline of positive psychology or holism mental health may include an individual's ability to enjoy life, procure a balance between life activities, and efforts to achieve psychological resilience.
The World Health Organization states that there is no one "official" definition of mental health. Cultural differences, subjective assessments, and competing professional theories all affect how "mental health" is defined.
In the mid 19th century William Sweetzer was the first to introduce an idea of mental hygiene.Isaac Ray, one of thirteen founders of the American Psychiatric Association, further defined mental hygiene as an art to preserve the mind against incidents and influences which would inhibit or destory its energy, quality or development. At the beginning of the 20th century, Clifford Whittingham Beers founded the National Committee for Mental Hygiene and opened the first outpatient mental health clinic in the United States.
Mental health can be seen as a continuum whereas an individual's mental health may have many different possible values. Mental wellness is generally viewed as a positive attribute, such that a person can reach enhanced levels of mental health, even if they do not have any diagnosable mental health condition. This definition of mental health highlights emotional well being, the capacity to live a full and creative life and the flexibility to deal with life's inevitable challenges. Many therapeutic systems and self-help books offer methods and philosophies espousing strategies and techniques vaunted as effective for further improving the mental wellness of otherwise healthy people. Positive psychology is increasingly prominent in mental health.
A holistic model of mental health generally includes concepts based upon anthropological, educational, psychological, religious and sociological perspectives as well as theoretical perspectives from personality, social, clinical, health and developmental psychology.
An example of a wellness model includes one developed by Myers, Sweeny and Witmer. It includes five life tasks — essence or spirituality, work and leisure, friendship, love and self-direction—and twelve sub tasks—sense of worth, sense of control, realistic beliefs, emotional awareness and coping, problem solving and creativity, sense of humor, nutrition, exercise, self care, stress management, gender identity, and cultural identity—are identified as characteristics of healthy functioning and a major component of wellness. The components provide a means of responding to the circumstances of life in a manner that promotes healthy functioning.
Cultural and religious considerations
Mental health can be socially constructed and socially defined; that is different professions, communities, societies and cultures have very different ways of conceptualizing its nature and causes, determining what is mentally healthy, and deciding what interventions are appropriate.Therefore different professionals will have different cultural and religious backgrounds and experience which may impact the methodology applied during treatment.
Many mental health professionals are beginning to or already understand the importance of competency in religious diversity and spirituality. The American Psychological Association explicitly states that religion must be respected. Education in spiritual and religious matters is also required by the American Psychiatric Association.
A number of professions have developed that specialize in mental disorder, including the medical specialty of psychiatry, divisions of psychology known as clinical psychology, abnormal psychology, positive psychology, clinical or mental health social work, mental health counselors, marriage and family therapists, psychotherapists, counselors and public Health professionals. Different clinical and academic professions tend to favor differing models, explanations and goals.
Characteristics of Mental Health
Mental health is more than just the absence of mental illness. It includes how you feel about yourself and how you adjust to life events. However, the National Mental Health Association cites 10 characteristics of people who are mentally healthy.
1.They feel good about themselves.
2.They do not become overwhelmed by emotions, such as fear, anger, love, jealousy, guilt, or anxiety.
3.They have lasting and satisfying personal relationships.
4.They feel comfortable with other people.
5.They can laugh at themselves and with others.
6.They have respect for themselves and for others even if there are differences.
7.They are able to accept life’s disappointments.
8.They can meet life’s demands and handle their problems when they arise.
9.They make their own decisions.
10.They shape their environment whenever possible and adjust to it when necessary.