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Mental health

Mental health is a term used to describe either a level of cognitive or emotional well-being or an absence of a mental disorder.[1][2] From perspectives of the discipline of positive psychology or holism mental health may include an individual's ability to enjoy life and procure a balance between life activities and efforts to achieve psychological resilience.[1] Mental health is an expression of our emotions and signifies a successful adaptation to a range of demands.

The World Health Organization defines mental health as "a being of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community".[3] It was previously stated that there was no one "official" definition of mental health. Cultural differences, subjective assessments, and competing professional theories all affect how "mental health" is defined.[4]

Most recently, the field of Global Mental Health has emerged, which has been defined as 'the area of study, research and practice that places a priority on improving mental health and achieving equity in mental health for all people worldwide'.[5]


[edit] History

In the mid-19th century, William Sweetzer was the first to clearly define the term "mental hygiene", which can be seen as the precursor to contemporary approaches to work on promoting positive mental health.[6] Isaac Ray, one of thirteen founders of the American Psychiatric Association, further defined mental hygiene as an art to preserve the mind against incidents and influences which would inhibit or destroy its energy, quality or development.[6]

At the beginning of the 20th century, Clifford Beers founded the National Committee for Mental Hygiene and opened the first outpatient mental health clinic in the United States.[6][7]

There are different types of mental health problems, some of which are common, such as depression and anxiety disorders, and some not so common, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. However, all mental health problems cause a lot of disability to the sufferer.[8]

[edit] Perspectives

[edit] Mental wellbeing

Mental health can be seen as a continuum, where an individual's mental health may have many different possible values.[9] Mental wellness is generally viewed as a positive attribute, such that a person can reach enhanced levels of mental health, even if they do not have any diagnosable mental health condition. This definition of mental health highlights emotional well-being, the capacity to live a full and creative life, and the flexibility to deal with life's inevitable challenges.[10] Many therapeutic systems and self-help books offer methods and philosophies espousing strategies and techniques vaunted as effective for further improving the mental wellness of otherwise healthy people. Positive psychology is increasingly prominent in mental health.

A holistic model of mental health generally includes concepts based upon anthropological, educational, psychological, religious and sociological perspectives, as well as theoretical perspectives from personality, social, clinical, health and developmental psychology.[11][12]

An example of a wellness model includes one developed by Myers, Sweeney and Witmer. It includes five life tasks'essence or spirituality, work and leisure, friendship, love and self-direction'and twelve sub tasks'sense of worth, sense of control, realistic beliefs, emotional awareness and coping, problem solving and creativity, sense of humor, nutrition, exercise, self care, stress management, gender identity, and cultural identity'which are identified as characteristics of healthy functioning and a major component of wellness. The components provide a means of responding to the circumstances of life in a manner that promotes healthy functioning. Most of the US Population is not educated on Mental Health.[13]

[edit] Lack of a mental disorder

Mental health can also be defined as an absence of a major mental health condition (for example, one of the diagnoses in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) though recent evidence stemming from positive psychology (see above) suggests mental health is more than the mere absence of a mental disorder or illness. Therefore the impact of social, cultural, physical and education can all affect someone's mental health. [8]

[edit] Cultural and religious considerations

Mental health can be socially constructed and socially defined; that is, different professions, communities, societies and cultures have very different ways of conceptualizing its nature and causes, determining what is mentally healthy, and deciding what interventions are appropriate.[14] Thus, different professionals will have different cultural and religious backgrounds and experiences, which may impact the methodology applied during treatment.

Research has shown that there is stigma attached to mental illness.[15] In the United Kingdom, the Royal College of Psychiatrists organized the campaign Changing Minds (1998'2003) to help reduce stigma.[16]

Many mental health professionals are beginning to, or already understand, the importance of competency in religious diversity and spirituality. The American Psychological Association explicitly states that religion must be respected. Education in spiritual and religious matters is also required by the American Psychiatric Association.[17]


[edit] See also

[edit] Related concepts

[edit] Related disciplines and specialties

Bold text

[edit] References

  1. ^ a b About.com (2006, July 25). What is Mental Health?. Retrieved June 1, 2007, from About.com
  2. ^ Princeton University. (Unknown last update). Retrieved June 1, 2007, from Princeton.edu
  3. ^ World Health Organization (2005). Promoting Mental Health: Concepts, Emerging evidence, Practice: A report of the World Health Organization, Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse in collaboration with the Victorian Health Promotion Foundation and the University of Melbourne. World Health Organization. Geneva.
  4. ^ World Health Report 2001 - Mental Health: New Understanding, New Hope, World Health Organization, 2001
  5. ^ Patel, V., Prince, M. (2010). Global mental health - a new global health field comes of age. JAMA, 303, 1976-1977.
  6. ^ a b c Johns Hopkins University. (2007). Origins of Mental Health. Retrieved June 1, 2007, from JHSPH.edu
  7. ^ Clifford Beers Clinic. (2006, October 30). About Clifford Beers Clinic. Retrieved June 1, 2007, from CliffordBeers.org
  8. ^ a b Kitchener, BA & Jorm, AF, 2002, Mental Health First Aide Manual. Centre f.o.r Mental Health Research, Canberra.. p 5
  9. ^ Keyes, Corey (2002). "The mental health continuum: from languishing to flourishing in life". Journal of Health and Social Behaviour 43 (2): 207'222. doi:10.2307/3090197. http://jstor.org/stable/3090197. 
  10. ^ Sulcer, Thomas (2010). "Mentally healthy mind:An exploration of how to flourish as a human being". pp. 1'20. http://knol.google.com/k/thomas-sulcer/mentally-healthy-mind/38jyd65oa42fm/3#. 
  11. ^ Witmer, J.M.; Sweeny, T.J. (1992). "A holistic model for wellness and prevention over the lifespan". Journal of Counseling and Development 71: 140'148. 
  12. ^ Hattie, J.A.; Myers, J.E.; Sweeney, T.J. (2004). "A factor structure of wellness: Theory, assessment, analysis and practice". Journal of Counseling and Development 82: 354'364. 
  13. ^ Myers, J.E.; Sweeny, T.J.; Witmer, J.M. (2000). "The wheel of wellness counseling for wellness: A holistic model for treatment planning. Journal of Counseling and Development". Journal of Counseling and Development 78: 251'266. 
  14. ^ Weare, Katherine (2000). Promoting mental, emotional and social health: A whole school approach. London: RoutledgeFalmer. p. 12. ISBN 978-0415168755. 
  15. ^ Office of the Deputy Prime Minister - Social Exclusion Unit: "Factsheet 1: Stigma and Discrimination on Mental Health Grounds".2004.
  16. ^ Royal College of Psychiatrists: Changing Minds.
  17. ^ Richards, P.S.; Bergin, A.E. (2000). Handbook of Psychotherapy and Religious Diversity. Washington D.C.: American Psychological Association. p. 4. ISBN 978-1557986245. 

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