What is mental health?

What is mental health? page update 5-24-2018. Written by Lucrezia Mangione, LCPC, NCC, DCEP.

Clarity.  Resilience. Proactive choice. Intellectual stimulation.  Curiosity.  Peace of mind.  Bouncing back.  A healthy outlook.

Mental health is thinking and acting in ways that are congruent with your values and what's meaningful to you.  It's the balanced experience of living life with a mind that is curious, open and clear thinking.   It's an attitude that enables you to manage and cope with changes, stressors and the activity of a complex modern life.

Mental health is a core aspect of overall health and wellness.

Mental health in action: a little, teeny example

Your thoughts influence everything you do.  Your thoughts generate your actions, your behavior.  How you act in the world is a result of your thinking.  Thoughts are intimately connected to how you feel.  Think a good thought, you'll feel good.  Think a bad thought, you'll feel bad. (But don’t believe me. Please test the good thought/bad thought for yourself.)

Daily you can feel stretched and strained from the mind traffic of life.  There are many things that take up your attention.  All-important and, at times, all-burdening.  You're aware of them because you have empathy. You care.  Soon you're lost in your mind traffic.

External data: 

  •     Lava flows in Hawaii.
  •     People thirsty, hungry and suffering.
  •     My daughter needs new shoes.
  •     My friend is not himself.
  •     My mate is depressed.
  •     My neighbor's dying.
  •     My mom has Alzheimer's.

Internal data:

  •     I'm not where I want to be.
  •     I'm not prepared for this morning's meeting.
  •     The fridge is empty.
  •     Storm's coming.  Might be travel delays.
  •     What's the point of anything?
  •     I need to catch up on emails.
  •     I'm hungry.
  •     I haven't exercised.
  •     Guilt.

Overwhelmed.  During these full times mind traffic can get the best of you.

And it saps you.  But only if you let it.

You are the one common denominator among all this data.  The highway for all this traffic is you.  You get stuck in the mind traffic, thinking your locked into a traffic jam of data.

But you're not.  Remembering you're the traffic controller, you rise up. Remembering you’re in the driver’s seat, you lift to another perspective.  You return to a better thought, a value and meaningful moment. You talk yourself down or out of it. You stretch for 10 seconds. And suddenly you return to a point of balance. You’re back in the driver’s seat. And the mind traffic has cleared up.  This is mental health in action.  What is mental health?  It's you back in your driver's seat.

Mental health's diet and exercise plan, in general

Your mind is your own - only you can take care of it well

  •     Respect your personal boundaries for your mental health
  •     Do what needs doing to promote your peace of mind
  •     Grow new habits that reduce stress that increase clarity and curiosity
  •     Take care of your physical, emotional, social and spiritual health

Mental health doesn’t mean your distress and suffering go away. It does mean it’s in the minority of your life's experience.  Being proactive and taking care of your mind supports your whole life.

It has a constructive influence on all aspects of you:

  •     the way you act
  •     how you feel
  •     your healthy relationships
  •     your coping skills and general health maintenance
  •     your relaxation and fun
  •     and so much more

What is mental health?

Now that you have a clearer answer to the question of what is mental health, get responsible for yours. Return to your driver's seat.  Re-discover what has meaning for you. Mental health is a healthy mind that's thinking, feeling and acting in alignment with what is meaningful for you.

Did you find this information useful?  If you see any errors, have feedback or suggestions, please send an email.  I appreciate constructive comments and consider suggestions. Thank you.

> > What is Mental Health?

Free Phone Consult

It's important to work with a counselor who's a good fit for you. I offer a free 10-minute call to explore the best steps forward.  Schedule a call.

Emergency Numbers

If you are experiencing an emergency, please call:

  • 911
  • 240-777-4000: Crisis Hotline, Montgomery County, MD
  • 800-422-0009: Maryland state-wide Crisis Hotline
  • Suicide Prevention Lifeline website

Lucrezia Mangione is in private practice. She is a board certified licensed professional counselor, board certified telemental health provider, counselor supervisor and educator, and nurse wellness education consultant. View her profile.