2.9.1. Mental Health Overview

What Is Mental Health?

This chapter is an adaptation of “About Mental Health,” a Government of Canada webpage.

Mental health is the state of your psychological and emotional well-being. It is a necessary resource for living a healthy life and a main factor in overall health. It does not mean the same thing as mental illness. However, poor mental health can lead to mental and physical illness.

Good mental health allows you to feel, think and act in ways that help you enjoy life and cope with its challenges. This can be positively or negatively influenced by:

  • life experiences, such as:
    • family situation
    • the death of a loved one
    • financial and employment status
  • relationships with others, such as your:
    • friends
    • family members
    • co-workers
    • schoolmates
  • work or school environment
  • physical health, such as problems caused by:
    • long-term illness
    • problematic substance use
  • the type of community you live in
    • is it a supportive and trusting community or one where everyone keeps to themselves?

How Can You Take Care of Your Mental Health?

Take care of your mental health in the same way you would take care of your physical health. It takes practise, patience and support.

You can maintain or improve your mental health by following the advice below:

  • Know and accept that life can be challenging.
  • Know and accept your strengths and weaknesses.
  • Set realistic goals for yourself.
  • Accept yourself and others. This is the basis of self-esteem.
  • Learn to recognize and understand that you and others have both positive and negative feelings.
  • Create a sense of meaning in your life by learning and trying new activities, like starting a hobby.
  • Create healthy, trusting relationships with people who accept and support you.

Building a supportive community is an important way to improve mental health. Making meaningful connections with your family, friends, peers, colleagues and other members of your community can help you feel:

  • like you belong
  • safe and secure
  • free to express your thoughts and feelings on issues that are important to you

You can help create a healthy and safe environment where you live, learn, work and play by:

  • knowing and accepting that everyone has difficulties in their lives
  • taking part in local events and getting to know your neighbours
  • finding ways to get involved and giving back to your community
  • supporting and including people of different ages and backgrounds in your community

How Does Being Mentally Healthy Benefit You?

Being mentally healthy can:

  • increase coping skills (how we handle difficult experiences and stresses),
  • improve self-esteem (feeling confident in your worth and abilities), and
  • improve resiliency (your ability to successfully move on after a negative event and regain control of your life).

Increasing coping skills, self-esteem and resiliency encourages people to

  • create healthy relationships,
  • positively interact with their community, and
  • talk openly about their mental health, including their needs and wants.

Feeling confident and competent in these areas can improve emotional strength. In turn, this can help improve and maintain your level of mental health.


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Fundamentals of Health and Physical Activity by Kerri Z. Delaney and Leslie Barker is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.