Today, and thanks to advances in medical research, the concept of health has been redefined: it is no longer just a physical construct, but terms such as social health and mental health are now included. Mental healthiness is one that refers to our psychological well-being and emotional stability that we possess.
Defining mental health is very important to be able to correctly treat psychological disorders, mental illnesses and to be able to maintain a correct state of health in general. For that same reason, in this article Psychologyorg, we want to make an approach to mental healthiness and its definition according to psychology.
Table of Contents
Mental health characteristics
First of all, it is important to know the main characteristics of this concept and how it has evolved throughout history:
- Since classical times, in philosophy, there have been various theorists who have treated the relationship between the body and that which is not material (the soul, the mind, the essence…) in various ways within their ideas.
- Centuries later, Descartes defined the dualism between mind and body, thus forming the foundations of psychological study.
- However, it would not be until the beginning of the 19th century that an important German anatomist named Ernst Heinrich Weber affirmed that our senses influence the way we perceive the world and that this perception formed our personality and emotions.
- Finally, the famous psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud laid the foundations of psychology by proposing mental and verbal therapy to alleviate and treat the various problems that the psyche and the subconscious had and that seemed to have no physical origin.
The characteristics of mental health, therefore, reside in its introspective, personal, and emotional nature. This concept ends up being (almost) completely independent of physical health, although today the close relationship between both disciplines has been discovered.
Definition of mental health according to psychology
As we have observed, there are several points of view that can define mental healthiness, however, we are going to use two large and important axes: the American Psychological Association (APA) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
- According to the APA, mental health is conceived as the way in which our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors affect our lives. Good mental fitness leads us to have a positive image of ourselves and, in turn, fosters satisfying relationships with friends and other people.
- On the other hand, the WHO defines mental health as a state of well-being in which the person is able to face the various challenges that life proposes, thus being an individual who works productively and makes contributions to their community.
Mental and Emotional Health: Examples
As we have seen in these definitions of mental healthiness according to psychology, a person with good mental health will be one who:
- Be able to lead a stable life and manage your emotional ups and downs in a correct way
- Contribute positively to your community, be it through studies, work, or taking care of your loved ones…
- You can overcome an obstacle in your life in a satisfactory way, developing correct coping strategies
- Maintain healthy relationships with others and be able to communicate your needs clearly and assertively
We can see that mental fitness is a very important aspect that we sometimes neglect because it is more complicated to observe than physical health. However, it is essential to pay attention to the alarm signals that can warn us of a possible emotional pothole, otherwise, we can develop a mental illness or a mental disorder.
What is mental illness?
Now that we know mental health and its definition according to psychology, we should ask ourselves one thing: What is a mental illness?
Today, there is a wide debate that questions the use of this term, some experts prefer to address this issue by talking about neurodivergence (differences in mental structures). Be that as it may, there is no doubt that there are people who are not capable of developing proper mental fitness.
Again following the APA regulations and its diagnostic manual (DSM-V ) we will refer to mental disorders as follows:
“A mental disorder is a markedly destabilizing behavioral or psychological syndrome or pattern associated with pain or discomfort, disability, or a high risk of dying or experiencing pain, developing a disability, or losing freedom. In addition, said syndrome or pattern cannot be a culturally accepted response to a particular isolated phenomenon (such as the death of a loved one)”
Mental illness: examples
Psychosis, schizophrenia, eating disorders, anxiety, depression, and different personality disorders are some examples of mental illnesses that psychology treats. The objective of this discipline is, ultimately, to be able to achieve a correct state of mental fitness for those who come for consultation.
The importance of mental and emotional health
Today, the lack of mental health is a problem that seriously affects the population. Suicide has become one of the leading causes of violent death worldwide and problems such as anxiety or depression have been linked to various physical illnesses, especially heart disease.
The importance of mental fitness lies in the close relationship with our well-being and survival. Living happy and stable increases our life expectancy and allows us to be people capable of facing the challenges that life offers us.
Mental health and psychology
In order to promote mental health, there are promotion programs that invite people to develop skills to prevent future mental illnesses. These programs recommend us:
- Foster positive attitudes
- Improve communication with others
- Establish an exercise routine and healthy lifestyle
- Learn relaxation techniques
We can also find other types of strategies aimed at treating disorders from different psychotherapeutic and psychiatric focuses in order to recover that state of mental healthiness already mentioned.
Whose definition of mental health?
Different experts and organizations have provided definitions of mental health over time. Prominent contributors include the World Health Organization (WHO), American Psychiatric Association (APA), and various psychologists and researchers.
What are the other definitions of mental health?
Mental fitness definitions can vary, but they generally emphasize psychological well-being, emotional resilience, effective functioning, and the absence of significant mental distress. Other definitions might also focus on adaptability, social relationships, and personal satisfaction.
What are the 4 types of mental health?
Mental health is not typically categorized into distinct types. Instead, it’s a multidimensional concept that encompasses various aspects of psychological well-being. Common dimensions include emotional, psychological, social, and cognitive well-being.
What is the definition of mental health and mental illness?
Mental fitness directs to a state of dynamic, psychological, and social well-being in which a person can cope with the normal stresses of life, work productively, and contribute to their society. Mental illness, on the other hand, refers to a range of diagnosed conditions that affect an individual’s thinking, behavior, and emotions, causing distress and impairing functioning.
What is the new definition of mental health?
As of my last knowledge update in September 2021, I’m not aware of a specific “new” definition of mental health that has become widely accepted. Definitions might evolve based on research and societal changes, so I recommend checking more recent sources for any updates.
When was mental health defined?
The concept of mental healthiness has been evolving for centuries, but it wasn’t until the mid-20th century that mental healthiness started to gain more structured and comprehensive definitions. The World Health Organization’s definition of health, which includes mental fitness, was adopted in 1948: “Health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” Since then, numerous organizations and professionals have contributed to refining the understanding of mental fitness.
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