Good mental health is a sense of wellbeing. It enhances confidence and self-esteem and enables a person to enjoy and appreciate other people, day-to-day life and the environment. When the person is mentally healthy he/she can form positive relationships, use the abilities to reach their potential and deal with life’s challenges.
World Health Organisation (WHO) has come up with a comprehensive definition of mental health as a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.
Mental well being facilitate longer and healthier living, use less health services utilities, take less off days from work, are more productive, earn higher income and likely to be in long term relationships with people and environment.
Health and Its Dimensions
The following terminologies are important with reference to the dimensions of health and wellness:
Physical health is measured by the body size and its functioning. Physical health deals with the body’s ability to function, such as doing regular exercise, maintaining nutrition and proper body weight, avoiding alcohol &and drugs. Exercise is the act of using your muscles to stay physically fit. Exercise helps to give you more energy, maintain weight, increase confidence & self esteem, and helps to battle chronic diseases.
Social health is measured in terms of the interpersonal network and successful interaction with others. It deals with the quality of your relationships with friends, family, teachers, and others you are in contact with.
Intellectual/ Mental health is assessed through the ability to think clearly and make responsible decisions. This helps to recognize reality and cope with the demands of daily life
Emotional health is determined by the ability to express emotions and maintain a level of self-confidence. It is a way of expressing your emotions in a positive, nondestructive way.
Environmental and planetary health is assessed by the ability to appreciation of one’s external environment, and like keeping your air and water clean, your food safe, and the land around you enjoyable and safe.
Spiritual health is determined by one’s ability to have a sense of meaning and purpose in one’s life
It deals with maintaining harmonious relationships with other living things and having spiritual direction and purpose. This includes living according to one’s ethics, morals, and values.
WHO proposition is that there can be no physical health without mental health. This has been endorsed by the Pan American Health Organization, the European Union Council of Ministers, the World Federation of Mental Health, and the UK Royal College of Psychiatrists.
It now emerging that mental health awareness needs to be integrated into all elements of health and social policy, health-system planning, and health-care delivery. Sophisticated evidence based arguments to increase resources for mental health care should be linked to evidence for its wider importance to public health. Mental health needs to be recognized as an integral component of practice in primary and secondary health care.
BALANCE: The Necessary Ingredients of Life
It is important to learn to strike a balance of emotions, thoughts and action in life to lead a normal healthy life. Health is a condition where both the mind and body are both in harmony. When one is suffering with any pain like headache, it is often difficult to think clearly and take a good decision. At the same time, work and thinking become more efficient when the body is free from discomfort. This shows there is an intimate connection between the mind and body. Happiness is what helps us get around. A happy mind is a healthy mind and a healthy mind give better ability to success. Scientists all around have always been fascinated by how happiness affects our life and the brain.
Harmonious Functioning Of the Mental Constituents
The mind is a system that operates due to an interaction between its various components and between it and the body and between it and the surroundings. These components are:
1. Emotions - What we feel and desire- like anger, fear, anxiety, rage, sadness, happiness, jealousy.
2. Thoughts – what we think- like ideas, memories, intelligence.
3. Behaviours – What we do- our actions, like talking, playing, and other activities.
Any purposeful action we undertake takes place due to a harmonious interaction between these mental components.
It is thus necessary that all parts of the mind work in harmony and maintain the internal balance. It is also important that the balance is maintained between the mind and the body as well as between the mind and the surroundings. E.g. if one is running fever, one cannot expect to visit the theatre even if one wishes to. And that will make us unhappy as our desire has not been fulfilled. Or if there is heavy rain with transport difficulty, one would not like to risk an outing outside. It might make us curse the weather gods for interfering in our desire. This small example illustrates how small and sometimes inconsequential factors become important in maintaining our mind in a state of health.
Maintaining Mental Health
Just as the body muscles require physical exercise to strengthen and endure; mind also require mental exercise to endure the strain of day to day life. Poorly exercised mind become feeble and fragile. Such mind can seldom face the blows of a stressful life leading to reduced capacity to bear jolts and falls. Anxiety, depression, sleep disorders are the common results in such people. This makes it imperative to maintain a healthily functioning mind to keep mental illness at bay.
It is also necessary that, for the mental faculties to grow, they must be constantly trained and tuned to the happenings inside and outside the body. Practice helps to develop our faculty and allows it to remain in a state of excellence. We know that practice makes a man perfect. And thus he is able to counter innumerable challenges which are an inevitable part of life. Be it fire or be it nanotechnology, no great invention or discovery has come without overcoming challenges and more so not without the sanity of a balanced mind. We must therefore keep facing challenges if we want our mind to remain healthy.
As in the case of maintaining general hygiene for physical health, developing a healthy mind is through imbibing good food for thought or ‘ChaitikAhaar’. This food for thought can be imbibed by participating in healthy discussions, socializing, meeting new people and meditating. Good and healthy food for thought is as important as nutritious food for body.
Secondly, in our day to day life we are constantly encountered with unpleasant things. Such encounters leave imprints, some of them with negativity for hours and at times for days together. Poor socioeconomic state, a broken family, professional difficulties can weigh heavy on the individual and hamper healthy mental functioning. These are leading causes for divorces, suicides, depression, anxiety and substance abuse. These imprints differ from the physical ones in that they are not visible. Just like any other wounds, they wouldn’t heal well in the absence of clean and positive surroundings. Supporting the individual, family and community from the assaults of such wound is a major responsibility of healers. Healing them and making sure that one doesn’t get injured again is the part of preventive and promotive mental health approaches. How can one achieve this healing in a gentle and natural way? Homoeopathy is a system of therapeutics that go deeper into the inner balance of the individual, capable to identify the imbalances and correct it through the constitutional approaches.
Mental Health and Lifestyle Disorders
With the advent of industrialization, change in the work culture, and eating habits the modern civilization has landed in a new breed of disease labelled as lifestyle disorders. With the advent of science, comfortable living habits and hygiene, the longevity has gone up but correspondingly, the quality of health has necessarily not. Lifestyle disorders also known as affluenza has dawned upon mankind. Stress tops the charts of causation of many diseases like diabetes, hypertension, sleep disorders, and increase in alcoholism and drug abuse. Not that stress was never there in the past, but it was combated with stress busters like spending time with family and friends, exercising, meditation, etc. all of which, mankind has distanced from now a days.
WHO. Mental health: facing the challenges, building solutions. Report from the WHO European Ministerial Conference. Copenhagen, Denmark: WHO Regional Office for Europe, 2005