There is no unequivocal answer to the question “What is good mental health?”. Attempts to define mental health are subjective. Perspective is influenced by innumerable variables: values, beliefs, experiences, culture, occupation, age and gender to name a few.
Defining mental health or wellness is fraught with difficulty and subjectivity. Throughout history, mental health has been socially, politically, legally, and culturally defined. It can be argued that the manifestation of mental illness is primarily culturally determined. It makes sense, then, that good mental health is also likely to demonstrate cross-cultural variations.
Many people believe that individuals are afforded good mental health when society enables them to have a purposeful social, economic and cultural role. There is much evidence to suggest that connectedness and caring relationships are important components of wellness across the lifespan.
What one experiences as ‘good mental health’ another may not. An individual’s self-report is frequently key to the identification of affective, behavioural and interpersonal changes, and it is such changes which are commonly precursors to mental illness. Self-description must also be considered in the assessment of an individual’s wellness.
From the author’s [albeit biased] perspective, mental health exists on a continuum and at what point the continuum becomes ‘good’ is not always clear. One attempt at defining ‘good mental health’ would be to say that it is individually determined and that it involves the ability to experience cognitions, affect and interpersonal relations, which are not consistently persecutory of self or others.
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