About Positive Mental Health

Health is a state of physical, mental and social well-being.1 Mental health, then, is an integral part of overall health and quality of life and contributes to the functioning of individuals, families, communities, and societies.2

All children and adults need to learn how to develop and take care of their mental health in order to feel good emotionally, do well in everyday activities, and cope with challenges.3 Being mentally healthy helps us to manage our lives successfully.

What is positive mental health?

"Mental health is a state of successful performance of mental function, resulting in productive activities, fulfilling relationships with people, and the ability to adapt to change and cope with adversity".4 This definition affirms the view that mental health is not merely the absence of mental illness but also the presence of something positive. Additionally, mental health includes more than demonstrating the presence of 'good' behavior. It involves 'feeling good emotionally' and 'doing well' in everyday function'5

"... when ordinary people are asked to ponder what it means to be healthy, concerns about avoiding illness, disability and suffering are not necessarily the first thoughts that come to mind. As or more likely to be mentioned are the ability to participate in one's chosen form of life, to extract joy and meaning from doing so, and to experience satisfaction and zest with life despite its normal adversities."6

1 WHO (World Health Organization). (2001). Mental health: new understanding, new hope. The world health report. WHO, Geneva.
2 Barry, M. M., & Jenkins, R. (2007). Implementing mental health promotion. Edinburgh, Scotland: Churchill Livingstone/Elsevier.
3 Jane-Llopis, E., Barry, M., Hosman, C., & Patel, V. (2005). Mental health promotion works: A review. Promotion and Education Supplement, 2, 9-25.
4 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (1999). Mental Health: A Report of the Surgeon General—Executive Summary. Rockville, MD.
5 Miles, J., Espiritu, R.C., Horen, N., Sebian, J., Waetzig, E. (2010) A Public Health Approach to Children's Mental Health: A Conceptual Framework. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Center for Child and Human Development, National Technical Assistance Center for Children’s Mental Health.
6 Mittlemark, M. B. (2007). Forward. In M. Barry & R. Jenkins. Implementing mental health promotion. (pp. ix-xi). Edinburgh: Churchill, Livingstone, Elsevier.