Why We May Need A Better Definition of Mental Health

It seems to me that if you were to ask people what their definition of mental health is you would likely get a variety of answers. However, they would probably have a common theme….they would define it in the negative, by what is not healthy. We tend to think of mental health in terms of dealing with or treating depression, anxiety, mental illness, etc. Perhaps we need to look at it the other way around.Maybe a better definition of mental health is by how we proactively keep our minds healthy in the first place. Humans are often procrastinators by default so I suppose that it is no surprise that many don’t think about or spend time actively working to ensure their long term mental well being. We have a hard enough time working to keep up our current lifestyles that we tend to not think deeply about the future.For better or worse the future comes eventually though and too many people find themselves suffering mental illnesses that they perhaps could have prevented. I’ve written before about how diet, exercise and certain natural supplements have been shown through various studies to positively improve mental health and function. They have also been shown to reduce anxiety, lift depression and even prevent or delay things like Alzheimer’s in certain people.To have our definition of mental health be solely about dealing with disorders or disease once it happens is really short sighted. The number of cases of depression, anxiety, stress and other issues is increasing. Alzheimer’s and other age related disease will increase as the population continues to age. So the question is how do we shift the focus to prevention rather than trying to put out these fires once they start.First, we have to take ownership for our health. That starts with educating yourself about what is out there that can help you have a healthier brain. Review the information that has come out of the research done and see what worked and what didn’t.Next take control of your medical help. Ask your doctor if he/she knows what diet or supplements have demonstrated success in helping secure a healthy mind. If they do not know or seem skeptical themselves then encourage them to do a little research of their own or find a doctor who has spent some time looking into these things and can help direct you and your health with greater knowledge in mind.Second, we need to change our definition of mental health and perhaps health in general to be about prevention and proactive approaches to a healthy mind. We need to take seriously the fact that our lives are getting longer and that our chances of facing mental issues is increasing so we need to protect our minds now for the long term.Lastly, spread the word. Help others around you focus on their definition of mental health. This is especially true of family members. Help them to get curious about what they can do to keep a health mind. If not, you may be the one to have to take care of them or deal with a mental issue they develop. The cost in time and money, not to mention the impact on the relationship is not worth waiting around or hoping it will never happen. Be active now for you and for them.

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