Understanding Mental Health And Well-being

A healthy person will be disease free, but a disease free person may or may not be healthy. Likewise, mental well-being will always ensure a person’s mental health but absence of mental illnesses may or may not determine disturbed mental well-being. Mental health is an essential part of health. It is as important as physical health.

‘Mental health’ and ‘Mental well-being’ are generally misquoted and used as if they mean the same thing. According to WHO, mental health is the complete physical, emotional and social well-being of a person and not just absence of mental disorders. Mental well-being, on the other hand is the state of self awareness, potential and capabilities. It is having a sense of self.

Not everyone in their lives struggle with mental problems but they do face challenges to keep themselves mentally at peace, resulting in mental well-being. Experiencing low mental well-being for a long period of time may lead to mental health problems which affect the way people think, feel and behave. Hence, a disturbed mental well-being leads to mental health issues that eventually impact a person’s life in many ways. So it’s important to consider and prioritise your mental well-being in the first place than dealing with mental disorders/disabilities.

Well-being And Wellness

Well-being is the experience of health, happiness and prosperity. It includes having good mental health, high life satisfaction, a sense of meaning or purpose, ability to manage stress, and courage to accept and embrace every aspect of life. There are 5 major types of Well-Being:

1.       Emotional well-being-

The ability to practice stress-management techniques, be resilient, articulate thoughts to have clear assessments.

2.       Physical well-being-

The ability to improve the functioning of your body through healthy eating and good exercise habits.

3.       Social well-being-

The ability to communicate and develop meaningful relationships with others.

4.       Workspace well-being-

The ability to pursue your interests, values, and purpose in order to gain meaning, happiness, and satisfaction professionally.

5.       Societal well-being-

The ability to actively participate in a thriving community and culture to make it better.

Mental well-being emerges from our thoughts, actions, and experiences, most of which we have control over, and mental wellness is the service station that helps us to maintain a healthy mental well-being. Mentally healthy people are positive, self-assured and happy. They are in control of their thoughts, emotions and behaviour. This enables them to handle challenges, build strong relationships and enjoy life.

There are many skills/ways which you can use to enhance your mood, build resilience, and get more enjoyment out of life.

Developing mental well-being requires time and effort. The more you invest in your wellness, the more you’ll benefit from your mental health.

Welfare And Well-being

Mental health is a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, copes with the normal stresses of life, works productively and is able to maintain their wellness, definitely requires some sort of constant support and investment. Governmental and many non-governmental organizations provide mental health welfare to increase support and awareness for mental health services. WHO has timely supported, promoted and advocated mental health by raising awareness using campaigns on depression, workplace mental health, reducing availability of and access to alcohol, as well as developing comprehensive suicide prevention strategies.

National Mental Health Programme (NMHP)

It is estimated that 6-7 % of population suffers from mental disorders. One in four families is likely to have at least one member with a behavioural or mental disorder (WHO 2001). These families not only provide physical and emotional support, but also bear the negative impact of stigma and discrimination. Most of them (>90%) remain un-treated. Poor awareness about symptoms of mental illness, myths and stigma related to it, lack of knowledge on the treatment availability and potential benefits of seeking treatment are important causes for the high treatment gap. The Government of India launched the National Mental Health Programme (NMHP) in 1982, with the following objectives:

  • To ensure the availability and accessibility of minimum mental healthcare for all in the foreseeable future particularly to the most vulnerable and underprivileged sections of the population
  • To encourage the application of mental health knowledge in general healthcare and social development.
  • To promote community participation in the mental health service development and to stimulate efforts towards self-help in the community.

The District Mental Health Program (DMHP) was launched under NMHP in the year 1996 (in IX Five Year Plan). The DMHP was based on ‘Bellary Model’ with the following components:

  • Early detection & treatment.
  • Training: Imparting short-term training to general physicians for diagnosis and treatment of common mental illnesses with limited number of drugs under guidance of a specialist. Health workers are being trained in identifying mentally ill persons.
  • IEC: Public awareness generation.
  • Monitoring: The purpose is for simple Record Keeping.

How To Promote Health And Well-being?

Although mental health is a fundamental component of health, recognition of mental disorders and awareness about its importance is limited. Stigma and misconceptions about mental disorders are major barriers to seeking help and promoting better mental health.

Increasing understanding and overcoming stigma through strategic communications and social mobilization are crucial steps towards strengthening mental health programmes. Mental health promotion involves actions that improve psychological well-being.

There are a number of ways to promote mental health-

  • Early childhood interventions
  • Support to children
  • Socio-economic empowerment of women
  • Focusing on men’s mental health
  • Quashing toxic masculinity which is a result of patriarchal pressure
  • Social support for elderly populations; programmes targeted at vulnerable people
  • Mental health promotional activities in schools
  • Mental health interventions at work; housing policies
  • Violence prevention programmes
  • Anti-discrimination laws and campaigns

Mental health promotion should be mainstreamed into governmental and non-governmental policies. In addition to the health sector, it is essential to involve the education, labour, justice, transport, environment, housing, and welfare sectors. We as a society and as individuals can do our part to promote mental health and well-being by creating awareness and shattering age old stereotypes that not only affect the person’s but the communities growth as well.

We can take following steps to improve our mental health and well-being. Trying these things could help us feel more positive and able to get the most out our lives.

  • Connect with other people-

Good relationships are important for your mental well-being. They can:

  • Help you to build a sense of belonging and self-worth
  • Give you an opportunity to share positive experiences
  • Provide emotional support and allow you to support others
  • Be physically active-

Being active is not only great for your physical health and fitness. Evidence shows it can also improve your mental well-being by:

  • Raising your self-esteem
  • Helping you to set goals or challenges and achieve them
  • Causing chemical changes in your brain which can help to positively change your mood
  • Learn new skills-

Research shows that learning new skills can also improve your mental well-being by:

  • Boosting self-confidence and raising self-esteem
  • Helping you to build a sense of purpose
  • Helping you to connect with others
  • Give to others-

Acts of giving and kindness can help improve your mental well-being by:

  • Creating positive feelings and a sense of reward
  • Giving you a feeling of purpose and self-worth
  • Helping you connect with other people
  • Paying gratitude-

Being grateful for whatever you have in your life is the best way to achieve whatever you desire. Gratitude not only brings us good but also keeps us grounded, happy and contented that eventually:

  • Keeps you positive within
  • Helps you to be patient
  • Reduces stress and restores faith

In conclusion, mental health is an integral part of our lives that should be taken care of. Mental well-being needs constant wellness in the form of welfare services.

Find a BUDDY to share all your problems with (even anonymously, if you want) on the FeelJoy Mobile App available for all Android users.


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