What Is Mental Health?

Just like physical health, everyone has mental 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 includes social, emotional and psychological wellbeing, and is not just the absence of illness, but also the ability to maintain relationships, cope with stress, contribute to the community and enjoy life.

Mental Illness

Almost one in five Australians experience some form of mental illness each year, and one in two will experience a mental health issue at some point in their lives

Mental illness is a general term that refers to a group of illnesses that affect the way people think, feel and act. Mental illnesses are of different types and degrees of severity, with some of the more common types being depressive disorders and anxiety, and less common being schizophrenia and borderline personality disorder.

Mental illness is also interlinked to physical health.

People experiencing mental ill-health are more likely to also experience physical ill-health, according to new research by Orygen and the Lancet Psychiatry Commission, with an increased risk of obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

Furthermore, the cost to the Australian economy of mental ill-health and suicide is, conservatively, in the order of $43 to $51 billion per year. Additional to this is an approximately $130 billion cost associated with diminished health and reduced life expectancy for those living with mental ill-health (National Mental Health Commission 2019).

How Do I Keep Mentally Healthy?

Prevention and early intervention, including engaging in activities that keep us mentally healthy, are the most effective way to improve individual and community mental wellbeing.

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

The Act-Belong-Commit guidelines for positive mental health provide a simple approach you can adopt to become more mentally healthy:

Do something
Keep active in as many ways as you can - physically, mentally, socially and spiritually.

Do something with someone
Keep connected to friends and family; get involved in groups, join in local community activities.

Do something meaningful
Commit to a cause; become a volunteer; learn a new skill; or take up a challenge yourself.

Did You Know?

  • A new study has revealed that 2 hours a week in nature is the 'dose' you need to increase health and happiness. And it doesn't have to be pristine wilderness. Your local park, the beach, community garden or bush land are all natural environments!
  • People who join sports clubs and other organised recreational activity enjoy better mental health, are more alert, and more resilient against the stresses of modern life.

Where to Get Help

There are many resources and organisations you can refer to for further information and support with your mental health. Helplines, websites, mental health organisations and government mental health information services provide a range of services.

Click here to learn more.

Safe Reporting, Portrayal and Communication About Mental Health

Safe and inclusive language, considering different cultural considerations and seeking expert advice or comment are all included in the Mindframe media guidelines when communicating about or portraying mental ill-health.