The previous article described the need to understand mental health and what is not. A good distinction is necessary in order to shift focus to good mental health as opposed to mental ill-health. The definition of mental health as given refers to a persons cognitive, behavioral and emotional well-being. The focus is really on three distinct questions: How do I feel? (Emotional) How do I think? (Cognition) How do I behave? (Behavioral).
Other times mental health may mean the absolute absence of a mental disorder. In this case, it is okay to say the absence of stress, depression, anxiety and all other related and unnamed mental ailments denotes a mentally healthy person. On the other hand, the presence of some of those denotes mental ill-health.
Mental health has the ability to affect daily life, physical health, and relationships. The ability of a person to enjoy life is mental health. It is to strike a balance between life, its activities and the efforts that give one the energy for psychological resilience.
As such, it is important we describe the essentials of good mental health in order to shift our focus from wrong contextual understanding and redirect to achieving mental health. To do this we have to understand the 5 essentials of good mental health and we would like to call them the 5Cs.
The 5CS to good mental health
How you connect with people around you is essential. Positive close relationships give an impetus to a threshold in general health nothing else can achieve. From acquaintances, friends, colleagues to family, nothing can go wrong when you have a good rapport with the ‘one another’s’ of the society. A person belongs to a community, and the community around us is our life and a connection that keeps us mostly sane. Giving our time and our resources to another has proven to be an important ingredient to the connection. It has the magical power of improving our sense of belonging, self-worth and general wellbeing. We are as healthy as we are one another.
Growth contributes to how we feel around ourselves and around others. We keep on challenging ourselves to grow through learning and developing our competencies.
The essence of childhood is innocence which is quickly replaced curiosity. So for children, every new sunrise presents a new opportunity to learn a new challenge to grow out of innocence. This is not necessarily a bad thing.
The essence of adulthood is responsibility yet many fear to take the challenge to change. A person who is unwilling to take a new challenge and learn is always halfway through putting themselves in unfamiliar situations. Expanding out of our zones of comforts into the stretch zone is a challenge we have to take that eventually develops self-confidence and a sense of personal achievement essential in good mental health.
Every person has the ability to maintain calmness and composure. It may present itself in our ability to find balance by keeping a safe distance from thoughts and negative emotions. The key to composure is response as opposed to reaction. Composure can also come from a connection to a higher being. Spiritual connection through faith gives inner strength that fills the spirit and contributes significantly to mental health.
Life and the environment we grow up in has a way of shaping how we relate and express our experiences and responses. Our story of triumph and struggle may pit us as either heroes, victims or villains. The guilt, the bitterness and the shame that is associated with our past may either turn us into a hopeless character or a reactive metal, all of which will impact our mental well-being.
Good mental health calls for carefully examining our past traumas, piece things together and sometimes go to the point of engaging spiritual connection and a professional counselor to help in healing. Such initiatives would do away with the feeling of fragmentation and hopelessness, giving a sense of personal value, strength awareness, better use of time, skills and other resources and appreciation. The character is in turn developed to give the psychological resilience needed.
Play and creativity introduce lots of fun and value to children. When responsibilities that come with adulthood take charge of this kind of playfulness and creativity is devalued, thus introduce frustration, a detriment to mental health. The direct effect of these is a diminished capacity of the brain to function optimally. Being creative, and provoking the creative nodes in our brain is a powerful therapy and good mental health depends highly on opportunities that incorporate fun, playfulness, and creativity.
Mental health has the capacity to deteriorate just based on how we treat ourselves and the triggers that exist in environments we live in. The five Cs are a good starting point for better health. Good mental health is something someone can aspire like fresh food. Let’s seek it.