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May 3, 2010

Enjoy Life More

Mental health key factor in overall wellness

The Canadian Mental Health Association has declared May 3 - 9, 2010 Mental Health Week and the theme is building your mental health one support at a time. That means it's a good time to look at understanding mental health and the integral role it plays in our overall health.

"When people hear the words 'mental health' they think about mental illness. There's a lot of confusion around the language," says Marion Cooper, Team Manager, Mental Health Promotion with the Winnipeg Health Region. "There's a continuum of mental health and there's a continuum of mental illness and they're not the same continuum. You could have a major mental illness that's being treated and be mentally healthy."

One thing that is critical when discussing mental health is realizing it is a part of an individuals' overall health and wellness. Like a physical health concern, if a person has a mental health concern - such as depression or stress - it impacts their overall health and wellness. And there are other elements too, like emotional and spiritual health, that are important to consider. Some people call it the mind, body and spirit connection.

The Aboriginal culture views health from this perspective, which acknowledges the role that all of these elements play in an individual's wellness. Read more about holism and this perspective by clicking here and reading pages 16-18.

If mental health is part of our overall health and everyone has mental health, what does it mean to be mentally healthy? "Mentally healthy people accept who they are, their strengths and limitations, have a positive outlook on life, and build positive and meaningful relationships with others. They set goals and problem solve. They take good care of themselves and enjoy hobbies," says Marion. "You may have things you need to work on but that's okay. The point is to focus on the positive to try to deal effectively with problems."

And how do you become a mentally healthy person? "Just like your physical health, it's possible to do things that promote your mental health," says Marion. "At the heart of that is enjoying life more."

Click here for tips on how to be mentally healthy everyday.

Further Reading on Mental Health

Mental Health Resource Guide

Mental Health Brochure

Enjoy Life More

Mental Health Promotion and Resilience Handout

How Mentally Healthy Are You?

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