Mental Well Being
Mental wellbeing includes the capacity to make health and happiness enhancing relationships with others. People with mental wellbeing know themselves and their needs, have clear boundaries, relate to others using the skills of emotional literacy and accept and manage conflict without manipulation or coercion.
People with mental wellbeing are also generous, wise and compassionate. They make good decisions on behalf of others. It therefore follows that promoting the mental wellbeing of all, particularly of those who are in positions of power, is an important approach to preventing social inequality and unhealthy policy.
Mental and social wellbeing are thus closely interrelated but distinct concepts, which often appear muddled together in the literature.
FPH’s concept of mental and social wellbeing addresses this bi-directional relationship, defining mental wellbeing as the attributes of the individual and social wellbeing as the attributes of ‘others’ collectively. In this framework, mental and social wellbeing can be seen as follows:
Mental wellbeing includes the capacity to:
- realise our abilities, live a life with purpose and meaning, and make a positive contribution to our communities
- form positive relationships with others, and feel connected and supported
- experience peace of mind, contentment, happiness and joy
- cope with life’s ups and downs and be confident and resilient
- take responsibility for oneself and for others as appropriate.
- more than the absence of mental illness/disorder; it represents the positive side of mental health and can be achieved by people with a diagnosis of mental disorder
- inextricably linked with individuals’ physical well being
- inextricably linked, as both cause and effect, with social wellbeing
Individual mental wellbeing is personal and therefore unique. It cannot be given – it needs to be developed by each individual for themselves, but others both individually and collectively can support or hinder this process.
For most individuals, the direction of travel includes the development of the skills and attributes of:
- psychological wellbeing (self-confidence, agency, autonomy, positive focus and optimism);
- emotional intelligence (relationship skills); and
- the capacity to experience happiness and contentment (sometimes called subjective wellbeing or life satisfaction).