Keeping mentally healthy is just as important as keeping physically healthy. This Guide will show you how.
It is based on the principles of the ‘Act-Belong-Commit’ positive mental health and wellbeing campaign. Keeping active, alert and engaged with the world around us (Act), having a feeling of belonging and a sense of identity (Belong), and doing things that give meaning and purpose to life (Commit) all contribute to our overall wellbeing.
This Guide will show how you can get involved in Act, Belong, and Commit activities that will contribute to keeping you mentally healthy and help you enjoy life more.
Who is this Guide for?
This Guide is designed for a broad audience of people, including people who are already mentally healthy, but simply want to learn more about keeping that way; people who feel ‘just ok’ or a ‘bit down’ and want to enjoy life more or find more meaning and purpose in life; and people who have – or have had – a mental illness or mental health problem and who are looking for positive ways to build their mental health in addition to any medication, counselling or treatment they might be receiving.
Whatever your reasons, we hope you find this Guide helpful
What does it mean to be mentally healthy?
It means that most of the time you feel good about yourself, good about what you do, and good about others. You enjoy the simple things in life, feel fairly optimistic about the future, and are interested in what’s going on in the world.
Being mentally healthy also means you are able to cope with the normal problems and tragedies that occur in life – usually with a little help from friends or relatives when things get really tough. Good friends make the good times better and the bad times tolerable.
In this busy day and age, it is more important than ever to do things to keep ourselves mentally healthy so we can enjoy life and cope with the demands and pressures of everyday living.
Most of the things we do to keep physically healthy are also good for our mental health like being physically active, eating a healthy diet, avoiding drugs and using alcohol in moderation.
But we can do much more for our mental health - and it’s as simple as A-B-C
Act: Keep physically, mentally, socially and spiritually active: take a walk, say g’day, read a book, do a crossword, dance, play cards, stop for a chat...
Belong: Join a book club, take a cooking class, be more involved in groups you are already a member of, go along to community events...
Commit: Take up a cause, help a neighbour, learn something new, set yourself a challenge, help out at the school or meals on wheels...
Being active, having a sense of belonging, and having a purpose in life all contribute to good mental health.
Act-Belong-Commit: What is it all about?
It’s about keeping mentally healthy by keeping active, keeping up friendships and connections with others, and engaging in activities that provide meaning and purpose in life.
Act-Belong-Commit is a community-based health promotion campaign that encourages people to be proactive about their mental health and wellbeing. Just as there are things we can and should do to keep physically healthy, there are things we can and should do to keep mentally healthy. These are summed up in the three words Act, Belong, Commit:
keep active in as many ways as you can -physically, socially, mentally, and spiritually. In short ...
keep connected to friends and family; get involved in groups you are a member of; join in local community activities. That is ...
“Do Something with Someone!”
commit to an interest or a cause; set goals to aim for; become a volunteer; learn a new skill; challenge yourself ...
“Do Something Meaningful!”
Act-Belong-Commit: What's the evidence?
Act: Being active is a fundamental requirement for mental health. Individuals with higher levels of physical, cognitive, social and spiritual activity have higher levels of wellbeing and mental health. Such activities can also alleviate mental health problems such as anxiety and depression and help people cope with life’s stressors.
Belong: Belonging is essential for good mental health. Regular involvement in social activities results in a strong personal support group, one of the most important factors for maintaining good mental and physical health. Overall, the more social interactions an individual has, the better their mental health will be and the better they will be able to cope with trauma and the stresses of life. Involvement in local community activities and organisations builds social cohesion, which is also important for an individual’s mental health.
Commit: Taking up challenges and achieving one’s goals, even small ones, provide a sense of accomplishment, feelings of efficacy and a stronger sense of self—a core requirement for good mental health and resilience. Similarly, volunteering and activities undertaken to benefit the community have positive returns for feeling good about oneself and others, and provide meaning and purpose in life.
References are listed on our Evidence for Act-Belong-Commit factsheet. For a summary of the research literature, visit the resources page on our website.
The main purpose of this Guide is to help you build your Act, Belong and Commit levels to protect and strengthen your mental health and wellbeing. This will not only help you cope better with problems and stress but will also help you feel better about yourself, your life, and other people. And, as our TV ad says “you’ll simply feel happier too”.
The Guide contains
- A questionnaire to measure your wellbeing now and in the future.
- Questionnaires to measure how much you Act, Belong and Commit now - so that you can see where you might need to do more. You can then measure your progress over the coming months by re-doing the questionnaires.
- Practical tips to help you do more in each of the Act, Belong and Commit domains.
- Where to get advice on healthy eating, sleep and alcohol – all important contributors to keeping mentally healthy.
- Where to get more information on psychological coping and mood lifting strategies.
- Who to contact if you, or someone you know, needs to seek professional help.
How to use this Guide
- We suggest you work through the sections in the order they appear.
- You can work through the guide in one go, or do one section at a time.
- For each of the Act, Belong and Commit sections, do the questionnaire at the beginning so you can see how you score now in each of these domains.
- If you score low in some areas and want to improve your score, work through the activities in the section and use the tips to plan how to increase your activity levels in those areas. Even if you score well you might like to see how you can vary the activities you do – and perhaps try something new.
- Where you decide to do something in particular, we suggest you set a date and put it in your diary to help you remember to do it.
- It could be helpful to work through the guide with a friend or family member and select things to do together.
- The questionnaires might show that you could be doing a lot more in some areas. The good news though is that you can do something about it and by the time you get to the end of the Commit section we think you’ll be motivated and inspired to make some positive changes in how you live life!
Good luck in setting and achieving your goals – no matter how small or how big.