You likely know the importance of good mental health, but do you know how to achieve it? Whether you’re born with a predisposition to mental health issues or acquire them as a result of substance abuse, can you promote good mental health regardless? If you’re ready to begin a journey of healing, Promises can help. Reach out to us today at 844.875.5609 to get started.
What Is Mental Health?
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines health (and mental health) this way: “Health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. Mental health is an integral part of this definition.” Good mental health is also more than just the absence of a mental disorder, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, or anxiety.
A mentally healthy person has a state of well-being in which he or she realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with life’s normal stresses, can work regularly and productively, and is also able to make a contribution to the community. Good mental health, therefore, is the foundation for an individual’s and a community’s effective functioning and well-being. Answering the question of how to promote good mental health doesn’t have to be complicated.
Factors Determining How to Promote Good Mental Health
Just as illness and health, in general, are affected by multiple factors, so, too, are mental health and mental health concerns. These factors, which often interact, include biological, psychological, and social elements. Experts say the clearest evidence is associated with poverty indicators, including low educational levels, poor housing, and low income. As socioeconomic disadvantages increase and persist for individuals and communities, the risks to mental health also increase.
It is impossible to have good mental health without policies and an environment that respects and protects basic civil, cultural, political, and socio-economic rights. People need to have the security and freedom of these rights to achieve and maintain good mental health.
The Link Between Behavior and Mental Health
Many problems, including mental, social, and behavioral health issues, may interact and intensify effects on an individual’s well-being and behavior. Violence, abuse against women and children, and substance abuse are examples of negative effects on individuals’ well-being and behavior. So, too, is the presence of HIV/AIDS, anxiety, and depression.
Cost-Effective Interventions to Promote Good Mental Health
Promoting good mental health doesn’t have to involve multi-million dollar budgets. There are low-cost and cost-effective interventions that can raise the level of individual and community mental health. These are some evidence-based, high-impact interventions that help to promote good mental health:
- School mental health promotion activities – These include child-friendly schools and programs that support ecological changes in schools.
- Early childhood interventions – Examples include pre-school psycho-social interventions, home visits to pregnant women, and combining nutritional and psycho-social interventions in disadvantaged populations.
- Community programs for children – Such programs may include skills-building or child and youth development.
- Housing policies – To offer affordable housing.
- Violence prevention programs – These can include community policing initiatives.
- Empowerment of women – Socio-economic programs to improve access to education and credit, for example.
- Social support for the elderly – Including day and community centers for older adults.
- Mental health interventions in the workplace – Including programs to prevent and reduce workplace stress.
- Programs for vulnerable groups – These groups may include migrants, minorities, indigenous people, and people.
In the Home: How to Promote Good Mental Health in Children
Beyond the basics of providing for a child’s physical well-being with food and shelter, promoting good mental health in children involves several things that parents can and need to do.
First, every child needs unconditional love from his or her parents and family members. The love, security, and acceptance trio are the bedrock for a child’s good mental health. Make sure children know that your love is not dependent on looks, grades, or accomplishments. Let them know that mistakes and defeats are common when growing up and are not cause for alarm. They are to be expected and accepted. Above all, make sure your children know that you love them without any boundaries and always will. Your child’s self-confidence will grow in a home environment of unconditional love.
Confidence and Self-Esteem
Nurturing a child’s confidence and self-esteem involves praising them for the little things they do for the first time and/or do well, encouraging them to take the next steps, to explore and learn about new things. Providing a safe environment for them to play in, being actively involved in their activities, smiling, and giving assurances will help them build self-confidence and self-esteem. It’s also important for parents to set realistic goals for their children, goals that match their abilities and ambition.
As children get older, they can help choose goals that are a little more challenging and test their abilities further. Avoid criticism and sarcasm. These are detrimental to a child’s self-confidence and self-esteem. Instead, if a child fails a test or loses at a game, give him or her a pep talk. They’re looking for assurance, not criticism.
Be honest with your child, not brutally so, but don’t shade the truth or gloss over your own failures or disappointments with little white lies. It helps children to know that parents are human, too, and sometimes make mistakes. Encourage your child to do his or her best and to enjoy the learning process. By trying new activities, children learn teamwork, develop new skills, and build self-esteem.
Guidance and Discipline
While it’s important for children to play and explore and learn, they also need to know that there are some behaviors and actions that are inappropriate and unacceptable, either in the family or in the school and community. Parents need to give appropriate guidance to their children and, when necessary, appropriate discipline. Discipline within the family unit needs to be consistent and fair. No changing the rules for one child over another.
It’s also important for parents to set a good example. You can’t expect children to obey family rules if the parents consistently break them. If your child does something wrong, you should talk about their inappropriate behavior—not the child. Explain why you are disciplining your child and what the potential consequences of their actions may be.
Do not resort to nagging, threats, or bribery since children quickly learn to ignore such tactics. In addition, they are ineffective. Try not to lose control around your child and if you do lose your temper, talk about what happened and, if you’re wrong, apologize. Parents providing guidance and discipline should not attempt to control the child but give the child the opportunity to learn self-control.
Surroundings That Are Safe and Secure
Your home should be a safe and secure place where your child will not feel fear. Despite your best intentions, however, there are situations and circumstances where children do become fearful, anxious, secretive, or withdraw. Remember that fear is very real to children. Try to find out what’s causing the fear and how you may be able to correct it. Signs of fear include changes in eating or sleeping patterns, aggressiveness, nervous mannerisms, or extreme shyness. Children who say they’re sick or appear anxious on numerous occasions may have a problem that needs tending to. Sometimes a move to a new neighborhood, disruption in the family structure, moving to a new school, or other stressful events will trigger fears.
Play Opportunities with Other Children
Make sure your child has plenty of opportunities to play with other children, inside and outside the home. Besides being fun, playtime helps children learn new skills, problem-solving, and self-control, and allows them to be creative. Vigorous play, such as running, jumping, and playing tag, helps children to be physically and mentally healthy. If there are no children of appropriate age in the immediate neighborhood, consider a good children’s program at community centers, schools, or recreation centers.
Teachers and Caretakers That Are Encouraging and Supportive
Caretakers, sitters, and teachers are instrumental in promoting a child’s good mental health. They should be actively involved in the child’s development, offering consistent encouragement and support.
Resiliency and Good Mental Health
Looking at the big picture, persons with good mental health have the following characteristics:
- A sense of contentment with their lives
- A zest for living, laughing, and having fun
- Able to deal with stress and bounce back from adversity
- Flexibility to learn new things and adaptability to deal with change
- Able to build and maintain healthy relationships
- Self-confidence and high self-esteem
- Good balance between work and play
- A sense of meaning and purpose in life, including activities and relationships
What Can You Do when Maintaining Good Mental Health Isn’t an Option?
Still, being mentally and emotionally healthy doesn’t mean that people never go through hard times or suffer through some painful situations. Sure, disappointments, loss, and change are all a part of life. And they do cause stress, sadness, and anxiety in the healthiest individuals. Here’s where the importance of resiliency comes in.
Individuals who have good mental health can bounce back from the adversity of a lost job, relationship, illness, sadness, or other setbacks. They see the circumstance or situation for what it is and set about righting their emotional balance. In fact, resiliency is all about emotional balance. And you can teach yourself to become more resilient and, thus, have better mental health.
Recognizing your emotions ensures that you don’t become trapped in negative mood states or in depression or anxiety. It also helps to have a good support network—family, friends, co-workers, counselors, and others—who can help you in times of need. Resiliency, according to the American Psychological Association (APA), is not a trait that people either have or don’t have. It involves actions, thoughts, and behaviors that can be learned and developed in anyone.
How Can You Build Resilience
- Accept that change is a part of living. All of life involves change. Accepting that fact, you will be better served by focusing on things that you can change and putting a plan together to do so.
- Make connections. Good relationships are important: family, friends, co-workers, and others. Accept help if you need it, and don’t be afraid to ask for it.
- Avoid seeing crises as insurmountable problems. You can’t change what’s happened, but you can look toward the solution and act accordingly.
- Take decisive actions. Acting decisively, even during stressful or adverse situations, helps build self-confidence and resilience.
- Move toward your goals. Create realistic goals and take steps to achieve them. Even small steps are a sign of progress. Keep moving forward.
- Look for opportunities for self-discovery. You can often learn something good from any situation, even tragedies and hardship.
- Nurture a positive view of yourself. Developing your confidence and problem-solving ability helps to build resilience.
- Maintain a hopeful outlook. Try visualizing what you want instead of worrying about how you’ll attain it.
- Take care of yourself. Pay attention to the physical and mental aspects of personal caretaking. This keeps the mind and body primed and ready to deal with situations requiring resilience.
- Keep things in perspective. Try to look at the broader, long-term view rather than blowing things out of proportion.
- Find additional ways of strengthening resilience. These may include journal writing, meditation, or spiritual practices.
Contact Promises Today to Learn More
To learn more about promoting good mental health, call Promises Behavioral Health today. We offer a wide range of mental health treatment programs, including:
- Depression treatment
- Anxiety treatment
- Mood disorders
- Trauma and PTSD
- Personality disorders
To learn more, contact Promises today at 844.875.5609.