Psychological health is a state of psychological well-being that involves a person’s mood, emotional stability, and the ability to connect with others in healthy ways. It also includes an individual’s ability to cope with life events and make a contribution to society. Psychological health is a dynamic state of internal balance and harmony that can be disrupted by certain circumstances or events such as death, trauma, disease or chronic stress.
While mental health is often defined as an absence of psychiatric disorder, the recent years have witnessed an exhilarating shift from a focus on dysfunction and disorder to a more positive perspective on human flourishing and psychological well-being (e.g., Argyle, 1987; Diener, 1984; Kahneman, 1999; Ryff and Singer, 1998a; Seligman, 1991). A positive psychology approach is increasingly being adopted by psychologists and has attracted the attention of epidemiologists, social scientists, economists, public health practitioners, policy makers and health care professionals (Huppert, 2005).
Various psychological aspects are viewed as central to mental health: basic cognitive skills, such as memory and organizational abilities; the ability to recognize, express and modulate emotions and empathize with others; flexibility and the ability to adapt to adverse life events and work productively and fruitfully; harmonious relationship between body and mind, including self-esteem, confidence, emotional regulation and spirituality. All of these components contribute to a degree to the state of internal equilibrium and allow individuals to live life as fully as possible, to pursue their goals, achieve a sense of mastery over their environment and find satisfaction in their lives, even in the face of illness or setbacks.
An additional aspect of psychological health concerns the quality of a person’s relationships and the extent to which he or she finds life interesting and enjoyable. It is important to remember that the enjoyment of a satisfying life does not exclude sadness, frustration and anger, which are all part of a human life experience.
A person’s mental health is influenced by the quality of his or her genes and family history as well as by environmental factors such as childhood experiences, education, social interactions, lifestyle choices and life events. Certain risk factors for mental health disorders include stress and traumatic life events, substance use and poor nutrition. The risk for mental health disorders also increases with age.
Psychological well-being is important for everyone, but it can be difficult to achieve without the help of a professional. Psychologists specialize in helping individuals overcome challenging situations by promoting personal growth and developing healthier relationships with themselves and others. Licensed psychologists can assist with depression, anxiety, stress management and other common psychological problems through therapeutic practices such as counseling, therapy and psychoeducation. In addition to individual therapy sessions, there are group therapy options available through specialized clinics and community organizations. Psychiatrists and other mental health providers are also available to provide medication and/or other treatments for psychological conditions. For those who are not able to seek out treatment, there are a variety of self-help resources available online and in print.