What Is Mental Health?

It’s an expression we use every day, however the term 'mental health' is often misunderstood and associated with mental ill health.

According to the World Health Organisation, mental health is "a state of well-being in which every individual realises their potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to [their] community".

Mental health is a state of wellbeing.

Mental health affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices.

Mental health is not just the absence of illness, but also the ability to maintain relationships, cope with stress, contribute to the community and enjoy life, therefore it includes your emotional, psychological, and social wellbeing.

What is Mental Illness?

Mental illness can affect anyone.

Mental illness is a general term that refers to a group of illnesses that affect the way we think, feel and act. Mental illnesses are of different types and degrees of severity, some of the major types are depression, anxiety, schizophrenia and bipolar mood disorder.

In Australia, approximately one in five will experience some form of mental illness every year, and one in two will experience a mental health issue within some point of their lives. The three most common mental illnesses we see in Australia are anxiety, depression and substance use disorders.

It’s estimated that the annual cost of mental illness in Australia is approximately $70 billion, which includes the costs from loss of productivity and participation in the workforce (National Mental Health Commission, 2017). 

The cost and impact mental illness has on our community, both financially and personally, are too high to ignore. Prevention and early intervention are the most effective way to improve our community health.

Mentally Healthy WA’s vision is a society that values mental health and where everyone has the opportunity to be mentally healthy.

Act-Belong-Commit focuses on prevention and early intervention. It’s a comprehensive health promotion campaign that encourages individuals to take action to protect and promote their own mental wellbeing. The Act-Belong-Commit campaign also encourages organisations that provide mentally healthy activities to promote participation in those activities.   

How do I keep mentally healthy?

Keeping mentally healthy is just as important as staying physically healthy.

The good news is there are things we can all do to promote our mental wellbeing and create a stronger more resilient community.

Being active, having a sense of belonging and having a purpose in life all contribute to happiness, good mental health and stronger communities.

The A-B-C guidelines for positive mental health provide a simple approach you can adopt to become more mentally healthy:

Do something
keep physically, mentally, spiritually and socially active

Do something with someone
keep connected to family and friends, get involved in club or team activities, and participate in community events

Do something meaningful
take on challenges or causes that provide meaning and purpose.

Follow the Act-Belong-Commit guide to keep mentally healthy!