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What is mental health?

What do we mean by mental health?

We all have mental health. It affects how we think, feel and behave, and determines how we handle stress, relate to others and make choices. Our mental health can change over time. In the same way that sometimes we get physically sick with a cold or flu, sometimes we get mentally ill too.

You might also hear mental health called emotional health or wellbeing.  Talking about how we feel can help others speak out.

We asked young people what they thought mental health was:

  • I think it's how you deal with things that happen to you, good and bad
  • It's about your brain and your mind and your thoughts and feelings
  • Mental health is things like depression, self harm and anorexia, it can make people really ill
  • It's about how you feel about yourself and your life and your family
  • Your mental health is what makes you happy, sad, angry, stressed - it's to do with your emotions. 

We think mental health is:

  • how we feel about ourselves, our bodies and our lives (this doesn't mean we have to like these things all of the time)
  • our ability to deal with the ups and downs that life throws at us (knowing it is OK to struggle when things are tough)
  • understanding how to be a good friend to ourselves and others (most of the time)
  • something we should look after - the way we do our physical health
  • being able to enjoy our lives, having good times and positive relationships (this doesn't mean you have to enjoy every moment)
  • knowing when we need to get some help and support and being able to ask for it
  • good and bad, some people do experience mental health problems or mental illness but support is available.

Some messages from other young people about mental health:

It's OK not to be happy all of the time"

Sometimes life can be really tough because something bad happens and other times you can really struggle for no reason at all"

There is always someone to talk to"

Life doesn't always work out the way we want it to but that doesn't mean it won't be OK, don't give up."