Understanding Mental Health in 2023: Defining Key Elements of Wellbeing

The COVID-19 pandemic thrust mental health into the mainstream spotlight. Yet what exactly constitutes mental health remains unclear to many. In this article, we’ll explore the definition, key components, and factors that influence mental wellbeing and how to safeguard it.

Defining Mental Health

The World Health Organization defines mental-health as “a state of wellbeing in which an individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.”

Mental health doesn’t just refer to mental disorders or illness. It encompasses our emotional, psychological, and social wellbeing that affects how we think, feel, and act.

When mental health is supported, a person feels in control of their emotions, behaviors and thoughts. They have positive self-esteem, realize their full potential, and form healthy relationships.

Key Components of Mental Wellbeing

Mental-health doesn’t just exist – it must be continuously cultivated. Key components include:

  • Coping ability – Managing normal stresses and recovering from hardship or change. Flexibility and resilience.
  • Balance – Maintaining equilibrium between the different aspects of life. Work, family, rest, health.
  • Self-esteem – Having positive self-regard and confidence in one’s self-worth.
  • Self-actualization – Realizing one’s full potential, abilities, and creativity.
  • Healthy relationships – Forming satisfying interpersonal connections and social circles.

A person with solid mental health has the tools to traverse challenges, fulfill goals, and enjoy healthy bonds with others. It’s an active, lifelong process.

Influencing Factors

Mental health doesn’t exist in isolation. Here are some key factors that shape status:

  • Genetics – Family history of mental illness increases risk for some conditions by 30-50%.
  • Early childhood – Nurturing, stability, and nutrition during formative years encourages resilience.
  • Substance abuse – Alcohol and drugs both exacerbate and result from poor mental health.
  • Trauma and abuse – Distressing experiences like accidents, deaths, violence or neglect inflict lasting damage.
  • Social circle – Supportive, positive relationships aid wellbeing. Toxic ones harm it.
  • Physical health – Exercise, diet, sleep and addressing medical issues helps mental health.

While some factors are out of our control, focusing on lifestyle, relationships, and resilience can offset disadvantages.

Safeguarding Wellbeing in Trying Times

The pandemic, political divides, climate events, violence and economic instability have contributed to a mental-health crisis. Here are proactive ways to protect yourself:

  • Maintain healthy routines. Sleep, nutrition, exercise and connection activities bolster resilience.
  • Limit social media and news consumption. Balance awareness with breaks from anxiety-inducing information.
  • Fortify your support network. Surround yourself with positive people who build you up.
  • Practice mindfulness techniques. Meditation, gratitude journaling, yoga, and walks can reduce harmful stress.
  • Pursue preventative care. Seek counseling early before mental health declines. Manage underlying conditions.

With radical self-care and professional support when needed, wellbeing is possible even amid turmoil.

The Bottom Line

Mental health is not just the absence of clinical conditions – it’s the active cultivation of emotional, psychological and social wellbeing. Sustainability comes by honing coping skills, cognitive patterns, relationships and lifestyle habits that empower thriving.

While global events create new hurdles, maintaining perspective plus protective practices can sustain us even in trying times. With hope, understanding and proaction, our collective mental health future remains bright.

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