What is Mental Health ?

Written By Angelika Keene, Community Development Agent

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and since the pandemic, a lot more people, organizations, etc., have been starting to have conversations about mental health. But what is mental health, what are the barriers to it, and what can we do to improve it?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), mental health is a state of mental well-being that enables people to cope with the stresses of life, realize their abilities, learn well, work well, and contribute to their community. It is a critical component in our overall physical health; simply put, there is no health without mental health.

Similar to physical health, there is an ecological model of mental health, including individuals, society, environment, etc. Individual factors may include emotional skills, genetics, childhood experiences, and substance. Social, economic, and environmental factors may include economic status, social interaction, quality education, and neighborhood structure (safe or close to violence). Whether these factors have a positive or negative impact, it is essential to know that interacting determinants of mental health serve to enhance or undermine mental health. 

The good news is that, like all health, mental health can change over time. There are active steps that individuals and the community can take.

  1. Fact vs. Fiction: The first step in addressing any concern or making improvements is to have the correct information; finding reliable sources about mental health is essential. For example, start with sites like these: National Institute of Mental Health: NIMH studies mental health in the US, and its website provides information about mental health and related topics. National Alliance on Mental Illness: NAMI is a grassroots organization that helps to reduce misinformation around mental health and provides resources. American Psychiatric Association: APA is an evidence-based website with information for patients and families. 
  2. Know your strengths. It is essential to address issues or make improvements to understand all available resources. These resources will look different, but some examples might be national suicide hotlines (988), peer support groups, EAP (Employee Assistance Programs), community groups, access to therapists, etc. For national and Florida resources: Mental Health Links | Florida Department of Health (floridahealth.gov) For Brevard-specific resources: https://sites.google.com/view/prevention-services-resources/local-resources/yellow-card?authuser=0
  3. Talk about it: Get comfortable having open and honest conversations. Talking about mental health can be difficult, whether you are the person experiencing a mental illness or you know someone who is. It is essential to communicate about what you are experiencing so you can receive the correct treatment and support, similar to how you would if you were experiencing physical symptoms. There are many courses and opportunities to learn, one example of which is Mental Health First Aid.   

To learn more about mental health programming in Brevard County, contact angelika.keene@ufl.edu.   

You can also register for the next Adult Mental Health First Aid course on Wednesday, May 29, 2024, by clicking: https://tinyurl.com/bdzxu627


About mental health (2024) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/mentalhealth/learn/index.htm (Accessed: 22 April 2024). 

Mental health and well-being ecological model: Leadership Education in Maternal & Child Public Health (2023) Leadership Education in Maternal & Child Public Health |. Available at: https://mch.umn.edu/resources/mhecomodel/ (Accessed: 22 April 2024). 

Mental Health (no date) World Health Organization. Available at: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/mental-health-strengthening-our-response (Accessed: 22 April 2024)


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Posted: May 9, 2024

Category: Health & Nutrition, Work & Life
Tags: Community, Emotional Health, Healh, Health And Wellness, Health Benefits, Mental Health, Mental Health Awareness, Mental Health First Aid

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