Psychological health is the state of a person’s emotional, psychological and social well-being. Achieving this level of mental health can help individuals deal with stressful life situations and improve their quality of life. Having good psychological health can also protect individuals against depression and other common mental disorders.
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity” (2). Although mental health can be difficult to define, it is a vital aspect of overall well-being that should not be overlooked.
Positive aspects of mental health include positive emotions, positive functioning and social participation. These are all important for resilience against distress and for building capacity to cope with stressful events and adverse situations in daily life, and are central to the WHO definition of health.
Emotional regulation, or the ability to recognize and express one’s emotions, is another essential component of psychological health. People with poor emotional regulation are more likely to have problems coping with stress and may be at greater risk of depression, anxiety, alcohol abuse or other mental health conditions.
Flexibility, or the ability to adapt to different life epochs and contingent situations, is another key element of psychological health. Individuals with limited flexibility are more likely to feel overwhelmed and stressed during major life changes such as marriage, a job loss or the birth of a child, and may be at increased risk of psychiatric conditions.
Achieving the right balance between work and family is also an important part of maintaining psychological health. When individuals have time and energy to devote to their families, they tend to be happier and more satisfied with their lives.
Psychological health can also be strengthened by making time for leisure and self-care activities. Taking time to relax and rejuvenate can reduce stress, strengthen mental resilience and promote healthy sleep patterns.
It can also be supported through a variety of physical exercise programs that can improve mood and boost the immune system. Regular physical activity can be especially helpful for those suffering from depression or anxiety, as it increases endorphins and serotonin.
Providing opportunities for leisure and recreational activities, such as sports, arts and other forms of creative expression, is another critical component of psychological health. When these activities are accessible to all, they can provide important outlets for individuals and contribute to a sense of well-being.
In addition, fostering a culture of wellness in all settings can be helpful for promoting positive mental health and protecting individuals from the negative effects of stress, anxiety or depression. Promoting mental wellness can be achieved through reducing social stigma and discrimination, educating the public about mental health issues, improving access to treatment, and encouraging and supporting mental health care providers to provide appropriate care.
In a time when the need for mental health services is increasing and resources are scarce, governments around the world are looking for ways to respond effectively and increase access to those services. WHO is committed to working with national governments, partners and other stakeholders to deliver strategic leadership, evidence and technical support that will enable a transition towards a more comprehensive approach to mental health.