Mental health – definitions and proven strategies to get mental well-being by coping and self-help

“Mental health” is related to every human being and so connected to expectations, misunderstandings, hopes, therapy concepts, philosophy, and worldview, as well as intervention strategies. This article offers the overview of mental health, defining essential terms and exploring proven strategies for achieving well-being through coping techniques and self-help strategies. Here you find links to further information that can help you understand individual issues more deeply and provide optimal self-assistance for mental health.

Mental Health: Popular Definitions and Concepts

Mental health definition by World Health Organization (WHO)

The WHO defines mental health as a state of well-being in which every individual realizes their own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to their community. This definition emphasizes mental health as a positive attribute, highlighting the importance of well-being and productivity.

What is the WHO Definition of Mental Health?

© WHO World Health Organization “Fact sheet on mental health providing key facts and information on determinants, strategies and interventions, WHO response”

No explicit mental health definition by “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM)”

The “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders” (DSM), which is published by the American Psychiatric Association, does not provide a specific definition of mental health per se. Instead, the DSM focuses on the criteria and classification of mental disorders. It serves as a guideline for diagnosing mental health conditions based on sets of symptoms and diagnostic criteria, rather than defining what mental health itself is.

The manual details a wide range of mental disorders, their diagnostic criteria, and related factors but leaves the concept of mental health more to the broader field of psychology and medicine, which often define mental health in terms of emotional, psychological, and social well-being.

So, mental health from the DSM’s perspective is “Life minus mental disorders”, that means: Health is for DSM “the absence of disorder.”

Mental health definition by “International Classification of Diseases (ICD)”

There exists no explicit mental health definition from The International Classification of Diseases. The ICD is managed by the World Health Organization (WHO). Similarly to the DSM, it primarily focuses on categorizing health conditions and diseases, including mental and behavioral disorders. It does not provide a standalone, explicit definition of “mental health” as a state of well-being but rather provides detailed classifications and diagnostic criteria for mental disorders.

Aaron Antonovsky and Salutogenesis – Mental Health by Autopoiesis

Aaron Antonovsky defindes mental health as the capability to swim and dive through the waves of life. Antonovsky explained health as the commitment to enter the stream of life (water). He introduced the concept of salutogenesis, which contrasts with the pathogenic approach in traditional medicine that focuses on the origins of disease.

Salutogenesis centers on understanding the origins of health, exploring how people manage stress and stay well. Central to this concept is the sense of coherence (SOC), which Antonovsky defined as a global orientation that expresses the extent to which one has a pervasive, enduring though dynamic feeling of confidence that:

  • The stimuli deriving from one’s internal and external environments are structured, predictable, and explicable (comprehensibility).
  • The resources are available to meet the demands posed by these stimuli (manageability).
  • These demands are challenges, worthy of investment and engagement (meaningfulness).

Mental health definition in Positive Psychology

Positive psychology focuses on the strengths that enable individuals and communities to thrive. Introduced by psychologists such as Martin Seligman, this field studies what makes life most worth living. It aims to complement, rather than replace, traditional psychology by focusing on enhancing well-being rather than merely treating mental illness.

The Biopsychosocial Model’s mental health definition

This model is comprehensive in that it considers biological, psychological, and social factors all playing a significant role in human functioning in the context of disease or illness. It’s widely used to explain the complex interplay between these dimensions in mental health.

Mental health in Psychoneuroimmunology

Psychoneuroimmunology (PNI) focuses on the genesis of health in every human being as a result of the connection between mind and body, with a focus on how mental states can influence physical health. PNI explores the interaction between psychological processes, the nervous system, and the immune system. It investigates how stress and emotional states can impact immune function, which in turn affects health and disease susceptibility.

What are proven strategies to get mental health and mental well-being?

For stabile mental health, living with gratitude, maintaining an open mind, and being conscious of the potential for positive change are crucial. These attitudes can significantly enhance life’s energy and embrace its possibilities. Regular physical activity, a balanced diet, adequate sleep, and social connections are also vital. Techniques such as mindfulness, stress management practices, and seeking professional help when necessary can further support individuals in maintaining mental health and achieving a state of well-being.

What are the differences between mental health and mental well-being?

Mental health describes the overall psychological state, including emotional, psychological, and social well-being in the long term. It affects how a person thinks, feels, and behaves over time.

Mental well-being tends to focus more on current feelings of happiness, contentment, and satisfaction within a specific context or during particular phases of life.

While mental health is a more stable and comprehensive term, mental well-being can vary more dynamically with one’s circumstances.

What are related concepts to mental health?

Mental health is a definition. It sets a border between states of the absence of mental health and techniques to gain or regain mental well-being.

Mental issues, disorders and concerns: problems

Find out more about problems in distinction to mental health.

Interventions, activities, refraiming that lead to mental health: solutions

Find out more about interventions to bring movement into a problem and develop solutions.

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