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Good mental health

7-minute read

What is good mental health?

Good mental health is more than just the absence of mental illness. It means you are in a state of wellbeing where you feel good and function well in the world.

According to the World Health Organization, good mental health is when you can:

  • cope with the normal stresses of life
  • work productively
  • realise your potential
  • contribute to the community

If you have good mental health, you might have emotions including happiness, love, joy and compassion, and you feel generally satisfied with life.

You are also likely to feel like you belong to a community and are making a contribution to society.

You might also have a sense of spiritual wellbeing, a sense of meaning or purpose, and feelings of peace.

Good mental health checklist

We all have to face challenges in life. People who have good mental health are more likely to be able to cope with the ups and downs.

You probably have good mental health if:

  • you are confident when faced with new situations or people
  • you feel optimistic
  • you do not always blame yourself
  • you set goals
  • you feel good about yourself
  • you have good self esteem

Building resilience

An important part of having good mental health is building resilience. This is when you can cope with unexpected changes and challenges in your life through drawing on your inner strength and using the networks around you.

Resilience is important for your mental health and can be learned.

People who have resilience can manage stress better, which means they are less likely to develop mental illnesses like depression and anxiety. You can learn coping skills to build your resilience and ensure good mental health.

For more information about building resilience, you can visit:

Tips for good mental health

Here are 8 tips for building good mental health.

Build relationships

Having good relationships with other people is the most important factor contributing to a sense of wellbeing. This can include relationships with family, friends, workmates and others in the community. Investing time and energy in your relationships can lead to great benefits for all involved.

Exercise and stay healthy

Exercise has been shown to increase wellbeing as well as reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. Good physical health is related to better mental health so a healthy diet, cutting back on alcohol and other drugs, getting a good night's sleep, and regular checkups with the doctor can all help.

Develop gratitude

Count your blessings. Try keeping a gratitude journal and writing down 3 positive things each day. This can lead to increased wellbeing.

Identify and use your strengths

We all have different strengths and weaknesses. Identifying and using your strengths and talents can increase wellbeing. A strengths questionnaire is available at Authentic Happiness, (it is free, but you need to register). Using your strengths to help others or contribute to the community creates a sense of meaning and purpose.

Create flow

Flow is the state of being so highly involved in an enjoyable activity that you lose track of time. This usually happens when the level of challenge is about right for your level of skill. Flow can happen during work, hobbies, creative arts or sports.

Give to others

Making a contribution to the community, however small, increases social wellbeing. Many people feel a sense of contributing through meaningful work, but this can also mean volunteering, helping a neighbour or performing small acts of kindness. Take some time to do the things you really enjoy. Pleasant events can lead to positive emotions that can cancel out negative feelings.

Spirituality or religion

For some people, being involved in spiritual or religious practices can improve wellbeing, help to cope with stress and reduce symptoms of mental illness. This can include belonging to a faith community, meditation, prayer, mindfulness and practices such as yoga and Tai Chi.

Seek help

If you are struggling to feel happy, cope with everyday life, find meaning or feel connected to others, see your doctor or a mental health professional. Almost half of Australians will experience a mental disorder at some time in their life — depression, anxiety and substance abuse are the most common disorders.

CHECK YOUR SYMPTOMS — Use the Symptom Checker and find out if you need to seek medical help.

Where to get help

There is a wide variety of support and information available in person, online and on the telephone.

You can talk to your GP, or contact services such as:

  • Beyond Blue: online and telephone support. Call 1300 22 4636
  • Your local headspace centre or eheadspace: support and counselling for young people and their families and friends. Call 1800 650 890
  • ReachOut: an online mental health service for young people and their parents. Call 02 8029 7777
  • Black Dog Institute: has a variety of digital tools and apps to help improve mental health, such as iBobbly, a social and emotional wellbeing app for young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and HeadGear, a 30-day program to build resilience and wellbeing
  • Head to Health - for advice, assessment and referral into local mental health services - call 1800 595 212 from 8:30am to 5pm on weekdays (public holidays excluded)

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: March 2021

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