Defining Positive Mental Health
May is National Mental Health Month and we all know that mental health is essential to everyone’s overall health and well-being. This month we want to focus on positive mental health. When we describe positive mental health, we are talking about more than the absence of a mental health condition; in fact, it is possible to have a mental health condition and experience well-being through positive mental health. Positive mental health is a positive sense of well-being, the capacity to enjoy life and work productively, the ability to make a contribution to his or her community, and the ability to deal with the everyday challenges of life. Our emphasis on positive mental health is an attempt to change the attitude around mental health from “what’s the problem?” to more “what’s going well and how do we make it better?”
Creating positive mental health in the workplace includes our working environments such as workspace, coworkers, safety, and the work itself.
How to build positive practices in yourself
Mental health can be impacted from all kinds of stressors and it is important to monitor those stresses so that you can avoid or manage stressful situations. According to Mental Health America, common tools and strategies such as animal companionship, humor, spirituality, work-life balance, recreation, and social networking lead to improvements across a vast spectrum of both physical and mental health struggles. Finding a reason to laugh, going for a walk with a friend or coworker, meditating, playing with a pet, and making human connections can have a profound impact on a person’s quality of life and ability to live mentally and physically healthier lives. Even something as small as taking the time to enjoy a cup of coffee each morning and checking in with yourself can be vitally important to your mental health.
Make sure to utilize your Employee Assistance Program (EAP); if you are medical member of CSEBA, you have free access to Health Advocate’s Employee Assistance Program and Advocacy Program.
How to increase positive practices for others
At the community level, you can encourage positive mental health by focusing on enhancing individuals’ empowerment and participation in a range of settings, including in classrooms, at the workplace, or in community groups. To promote positive mental health in your classroom, you can encourage social time among students by allowing group tasks or projects that they can work on together. You can discuss mental health in your classroom so that students are both more aware of it, and often feel they have a safe place to discuss their own struggles.
For promoting positive mental health among your school staff, here are some great ideas:
- Creating an open-door policy in which you encourage staff to speak to their co-workers and senior members of staff about any concerns. Support networks are a great way to reduce burnout and often help when there is a mental health issue.
- Let your staff know they are valued. Often school staff become overwhelmed and can feel undervalued so it is critical that you reward their achievements and always thank them for their hard work. Small tokens like fresh fruit in the break room or signed thank you cards can go a long way in promoting camaraderie and positive mental health.
- Encourage professional development and continuous staff learning. Schools are learning centers by design, but often only for students. Offering the opportunity for continuous learning by offering resilience trainings, mindfulness workshops, or fun classes for staff can help staff feel more connected to their peers all while promoting positive mental health.
*Information from https://www.headsup.org.au/your-mental-health/what-is-good-mental-health, http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/sites/default/files/MHM_2019_FULL_TOOLKIT_FINAL.pdf, https://www.highspeedtraining.co.uk/hub/wellbeing-in-schools-for-staff/,