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Promot good mental health

Definition of Mental Health

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines health (and mental health) this way: Health is a
state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease
or infirmity. Mental health is an integral part of this definition.

Good mental health is also more than just the absence of a mental disorder, such as
schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, or anxiety. A person who is mentally healthy has a
state of well-being in which he or she realizes his or her own abilities, is able to cope with lifes
normal stresses, can work regularly and productively, and is also able to make a contribution to
the community. Good mental health, therefore, is the foundation for an individuals and a
communitys effective functioning and well-being.

Factors Determining Mental Health

Just as illness and health in general are affected by multiple factors, so, too, is mental health and
mental health disorders. These factors, which often interact, include biological, psychological,
and social elements.

Basics for Childrens Good Mental Health

Unconditional love: First, every child needs unconditional love from his or her parents and
family members. The love, security, and acceptance trio are the bedrock for a childs good
mental health. Make sure children know that your love is not dependent on looks or grades or
accomplishments. Let them know that mistakes and defeats are common when growing up, and
are not cause for alarm. They are to be expected and accepted. Above all, make sure your
children know that you love them without any boundaries, and always will. Your childs self-
confidence will grow in a home environment of unconditional love.

Confidence and self-esteem: Nurturing a childs confidence and self-esteem involves praising
them for the little things they do for the first time and/or do well, encouraging them to take the
next steps, to explore and learn about new things. Providing a safe environment for them to
play in, being actively involved in their activities, smiling and giving assurances, will help them
build self-confidence and self-esteem. Its also important for parents to set realistic goals for
their children, goals that match their abilities and ambition. As children get older, they can help
choose goals that are a little more challenging and test their abilities further. Avoid criticism and
sarcasm. These are detrimental to a childs self-confidence and self-esteem. Instead, if a child
fails a test or loses at a game, give him or her a pep talk. Theyre looking for assurance, not
criticism. Be honest with your child, not brutally so, but dont shade the truth or gloss over your
own failures or disappointments with little white lies. It helps children to know that parents are
human, too, and sometimes make mistakes. Encourage your child to do his or her best and to
enjoy the learning process. By trying new activities, children learn teamwork, develop new skills,
and build self-esteem.

Guidance and discipline: While its important for children to play and explore and learn, they
also need to know that there are some behaviors and actions that are inappropriate and
unacceptable, either in the family or in the school and community. Parents need to give
appropriate guidance to their children and, when necessary, appropriate discipline. Discipline
within the family unit needs to be consistent and fair. No changing the rules for one child over
another. Its also important for parents to set a good example. You cant expect children to obey
family rules if the parents consistently break them. If your child does something wrong, you
should talk about their behavior thats inappropriate not the child. Explain why you are
disciplining your child as well as what the potential consequences of their actions may be. Do
not resort to nagging, threats, or bribery, since children quickly learn to ignore such tactics. In
addition, they are ineffective. Try not to lose control around your child and if you do lose your
temper, talk about what happened and, if youre wrong, apologize. Parents providing guidance
and discipline should not attempt to control the child, but to give the child the opportunity to
learn self-control.

Surroundings that are safe and secure: Your home should be a safe and secure place where
your child will not feel fear. Despite our best intentions, however, there are situations and
circumstances where children do become fearful, anxious, secretive, or withdraw. Remember
that fear is very real to children. Try to find out whats causing the fear and how you may be
able to correct it. Signs of fear include changes in eating or sleeping patterns, aggressiveness,
nervous mannerisms, or extreme shyness. Children to say theyre sick or appear anxious on
numerous occasions may have a problem that needs tending to. Sometimes a move to a new
neighborhood, disruption in the family structure, moving to a new school, or other stressful
event will trigger fears. Illness can also prompt a fear of returning to school.

Play opportunities with other children: Make sure your child has plenty of opportunities to play
with other children, inside and outside the home. Besides being fun, playtime helps children
learn new skills, problem-solving, self-control, and allows them to be creative. Vigorous play,
such as running, jumping and playing tag, helps children to be physically and mentally healthy. If
there are no children of appropriate age in the immediate neighborhood, consider a good
childrens program at community centers, schools, recreation or park center.

Teachers and caretakers that are encouraging and supportive: Caretakers, sitters, and teachers
are instrumental in the promotion of a childs good mental health. They should be actively
involved in the childs development, offering consistent encouragement and support.

persons with good mental health have the following characteristics:

A sense of contentment with their lives
A zest for living, laughing, and having fun
Able to deal with stress and to bounce back from adversity
Flexibility to learn new things, and adaptability to deal with change
Able to build and maintain healthy relationships
Self-confidence and high self-esteem
Good balance between work and play
A sense of meaning and purpose in life, including activities and relationships


Accept that change is a part of living. All of life involves change. Accepting that fact,
you will be better served by focusing on things that you can change and putting a plan
together to do so.
Make connections. Good relationships are important: family, friends, co-workers, and
others. Accept help if you need it, and dont be afraid to ask for it.
Avoid seeing crises as insurmountable problems. You cant change whats happened, but
you can look toward the solution and act accordingly.
Take decisive actions. Acting decisively, even during stressful or adverse situations,
helps build self-confidence and resilience.
Move toward your goals. Create realistic goals and take steps to achieve them. Even
small steps are a sign of progress. Keep moving forward.
Look for opportunities for self-discovery. You can often learn something good from any
situation, even tragedies and hardship.
Nurture a positive view of yourself. Develop your confidence and problem-solving ability
helps to build resilience.
Maintain a hopeful outlook. Try visualizing what you want, instead of worrying about
how youll attain it.
Take care of yourself. Pay attention to the physical and mental aspects of personal
caretaking. This keeps mind and body primed and ready to deal with situations requiring
Keep things in perspective. Try to look at the broader, long-term view and avoid blowing
things out of proportion.
Find additional ways of strengthening resilience. These may include journal writing,
meditation, or spiritual practices.
Boost Mood, Build Resilience, and Increase Happiness

What you can do to improve your mental and emotional health

1. Connect face-to-face with supportive people

2. Get moving in fun ways - as much and as often as you are able
3. Explore a variety of techniques for managing stress
4. Choose a diet rich in omega-3 fats to support mental health
5. Get enough quality sleep - 7 to 9 hours a night
6. Invest in activities that give your life meaning and purpose

People who are mentally healthy have:

A sense of contentment
A zest for living and the ability to laugh and have fun.
The ability to deal with stress and bounce back from adversity.
A sense of meaning and purpose, in both their activities and their relationships.
The flexibility to learn new things and adapt to change.
A balance between work and play, rest and activity, etc.
The ability to build and maintain fulfilling relationships.
Self-confidence and high self-esteem.
Here are some tips for promoting good mental health in schools:

The mind: a whole-school approach to stigma

The problem with PSHE is that, while it is a valuable addition to a spectrum of solutions for
promoting wellbeing within schools (and should, in my opinion, be statutory), it has the potential
to be stigmatising.

The body: incorporate more physical activity

Under the last administration, then secretary for education Michael Gove refused to make it
mandatory for state school children to do a minimum of two hours of PE every week. As a result,
the average state school child alternates between doing two hours one week and then just one
hour the next. When changing time is taken into account, this means that some weeks theyre
realistically only getting about 40 minutes.

The soul: encourage open communication

Technological advances mean there is the biggest gap in cultural understanding between adults
(parents and teachers) and children since the 1960s. We must try to bridge the us and them
divide because communication is key to good mental health. For parents and teachers to have an
open and honest dialogue with their children, they must understand their world and what is
important to them.