According to the World Health Organization, “Mental health is a state of mental well-being that enables people to cope with the stresses of life, realize their abilities, learn well and work well, and contribute to their community.” Effectively, it’s the capability of someone to function individually and socially in the way best suited for him or her.
How can you improve it? Unfortunately, there’s no single key to good mental wellbeing; it differs for each person. However, there are a few tips that generally improve mental health. The UK’s National Health Service gives five pieces of advice: connect with other people, be physically active, learn new skills, give to others, and pay attention to the present moment.
What can we learn from this advice? First, notice how connected this advice is with other aspects of wellbeing, physical and social. This means that when you improve in just one of these, the others benefit as well.
While each of the five tips are useful, I’d like to focus on the third one: to learn new skills. Life is much more meaningful when you have a specific skill you want to learn or a specific goal you want to achieve. If you find a skill you want to learn and improve in, you will be engaged as you work towards it and measure your progress. Some examples are learning a new language or taking up an interesting hobby.
Another important piece of advice is to set aside time to do what you want. According to a recent research paper published by the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, leisure time not only can improve mental health, but it can also provide social development opportunities. Work is inevitable, but it’s important to set aside some leisure time to relax and recharge. This could mean watching a TV show, playing video games, reading a book, or working on a personal project.
However, this is not always sufficient. If you are trying these and are still feeling down for an extended period of time, this is not your fault, but may be more difficult to attend to. In this case, doctors and other professionals can provide significant help that you can’t provide on your own. You could talk to your parents, or you could go to professionals, such as your school counselor or your pediatrician.
In summary, mental wellbeing is the ability to comfortably function in society as a content individual. There are many ways to work toward a mentally well life, including working on a goal or a project that you are passionate about. And don’t forget to set aside some time for yourself! With these ideas, I hope you will find your mental health improving eventually!
NHS Choices, NHS, www.nhs.uk/mental-health/self-help/guides-tools-and-activities/five-steps-to-mental-wellbeing/.
Cosma, Alina, et al. “Leisure Time Use and Adolescent Mental Well-Being: Insights from the COVID-19 Czech Spring Lockdown.” International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, MDPI, 5 Dec. 2021, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8657078/.
“Mental Health: Strengthening Our Response.” World Health Organization, World Health Organization, www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/mental-health-strengthening-our-response.