Psychological health refers to a person’s emotional, psychological and social well-being. This includes the ability to have satisfying and lasting relationships, cope with everyday stressors and have self-esteem that is based on realistic appraisals of personal strengths and abilities. Psychological health also includes the ability to control tension and anxiety.
There are many things that can impact a person’s psychological health, such as work stress, family problems, poor eating habits and addictions. The good news is that if you’re not in a state of optimal psychological health, it is easy to improve it with the help of trained professionals, such as psychologists and counselors.
A large body of research has demonstrated that a person’s psychological health is closely related to his or her physical health. People in good psychological health are less likely to develop heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and other illnesses. In addition, they are more resilient to the effects of stress and illness and have better coping skills.
Those who are not in a state of psychological health may experience more frequent headaches, fatigue, stomachaches and sleeping problems, and are more likely to have difficulty dealing with life’s challenges. Some may even experience mood swings that can cause depression and anxiety. Some may have trouble concentrating, feel easily overwhelmed and be more prone to anger or aggression.
Psychologists and counselors are trained to assess, diagnose and treat mental health issues. They provide support and guidance to individuals struggling with various issues, including stress, anxiety, depression, addictions, trauma, relationship problems, grief and loss, eating disorders and other conditions. They use different methods to help people overcome their difficulties, such as group and individual therapy.
Some mental illnesses have been linked to abnormal functioning of nerve cell circuits that connect particular brain regions. These circuits are controlled by chemicals, such as neurotransmitters. “Tweaking” these chemical signals through medicine, psychotherapy and other treatments can help to improve a person’s mental health.
Other factors that affect mental health include a person’s genetic makeup and environmental influences. A person’s genes determine whether or not he or she will have certain mental health disorders, such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. However, genetics only explain about a third of the risk for developing a mental health condition. Environmental factors, such as stressful life events and traumatic experiences, can also contribute to mental illness.
There are numerous reasons why psychological health is important for both the individual and the workplace. It can improve employee job satisfaction and productivity, as well as reduce health costs, absenteeism and lost work time. For more information on addressing psychological health in the workplace, see the Canadian Standards Association’s Guidance on Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace. This document outlines the definition of psychological health and provides useful strategies for improving it in the workplace. In addition, it identifies key risk factors for poor psychological health and offers practical strategies to address them. It also directs readers to valuable resources for further study of the topic.