Know the Signs of Mental Health
All children and adults need to learn how to develop and take care of their mental health in order to feel good emotionally, do well in everyday activities, and cope with challenges.1 Being mentally healthy helps us to manage our lives successfully.
Be able to recognize Signs of mental 'health'. Four characteristics are generally present when a person is mentally healthy.2
- Positive affect or emotional state. (Feeling happy and/or content) Does the person smile during some parts of the day and feel happy?
- Positive psychological and social function. Does the person enjoy fulfilling relationships with other? Have at least 1-2 friends? Feel good about him or herself?
- Engaging in productive activities. Does the person perform needed everyday tasks such as schoolwork (able to concentrate and do work?) and activities of daily living (takes care of appearance, sleeping OK)? Does the person engage in a balance of school/work, play/leisure, and rest/sleep activities?
- Coping with life stressors and demonstrating resilience when challenged. Does the person bounce back following a challenge and learn from the experience? Has the person learned strategies for maintaining mental health (e.g. engaging in enjoyable activities, relaxation strategies, exercise, healthy diet, adequate sleep).
As you interact with children and youth throughout the day, tune into their mental health!
Also, remember that mental health is a dynamic state of functioning and is influenced by situational stressors (big and small), such as, being bullied, losing a loved one, parental divorce, etc. Tune into situations that may place a young person at risk for not feeling good emotionally or doing well functionally. Refer to Tier 2 strategies.
1 Jane-Llopis, E., Barry, M., Hosman, C., & Patel, V. (2005). Mental health promotion works: A review. Promotion and Education Supplement, 2, 9-25.
2 WHO (World Health Organization). (2001). Mental health: new understanding, new hope. The world health report. WHO, Geneva