Of late, the issue of mental health has captured our mind so much that there is need to create awareness on some of the factors that may interfere with it. But what exactly do you mean by mental health? According to the World Health Organization (WHO), mental is “a state of wellbeing in which every individual realizes his/her potential ,can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully ,and is able to make contribution to her/his community’.

Further explanation on mental well-being is that it is all about your thoughts, emotions, feelings, and ability to solve social problems and overcome difficulties, your social connections, and your understanding of the world around you. The opposite of this is termed as mental illness which usually affect the way you think, feel, and behave and your interactions with others.

Just as it is possible to have poor mental health but no mental illness, it is entirely possible to have good mental health even with a diagnosis of mental illness.

Let is debunk the definition of mental health/mental well –being by looking at the 4 elements captured in the WHO definition

  • Realizing your potential; as a young person who may be in college, are you able to attend to your studies? To wake up on time, prepare for college, sit and pass exams?
  • Coping with normal stresses of life; life is full of challenging situations and circumstances. For students there are exams to be revised for and passed, peer pressure from your friends as well as relationships to be initiated, managed and sustained. What of the economic hardships? Sometimes you may be tempted to engage in alcohol or drugs in order to cope with these stressing situations. This does not solve problems; it makes them worse.
  • Work productively and fruitfully; what about your work? Do you meet your target? You may be going to college but did you achieve that grade you had set for yourself? If you are working, are you adding value to your company? Are you able to earn your daily bread?
  •  Making a contribution to your community; your productivity adds value to the family, community and the nation at large. As a youth, do you volunteer when called upon? During cleans ups? What about as an active member of your church? What about your role in maintain order and security in your neighborhood?

It is important to bear in mind that being mentally health is not about feeling happy and confident 100% of the time and ignoring problems; it is about living and coping well despite problems.


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