The first step to understanding positive mental health is to look at how we view “mental health”. When people think of mental health they often make associations with symptoms, challenges and illness, reducing our ability to see the whole picture of mental health.
Consider the way “physical health” is understood. Although we are all aware that people experience various physical illnesses during their lifetime, ranging from mild and brief to more severe and enduring, we do not see these symptoms, challenges and illnesses as defining physical health. We equate physical health as an overall experience of physical wellness.
Good health includes both physical and mental health!
Often, mental health awareness campaigns focus solely on mental illness. Understanding mental illnesses and reducing the stigma of living with mental illness is very important. Understanding the broader concept of mental health and how to improve and support positive mental health enables us to provide early intervention for individuals who have not developed a mental illness as well as support individuals living with mental illness to access resources for recovery sooner. People living with mental illness can experience positive mental health.
Everyone has periods of time when they are not experiencing optimal mental health (as all people experience periods of time when they do not have optimum physical health). The DDSB has identified five links of influence for positive mental health in the Mental Health and Addictions Strategic Plan.
* Building Resiliency
* Breaking Down the Stigma
* Building Skills and Knowledge
* Engaging Parent/Guardians and Families
* Working Collaboratively with Community Partners
In the coming months and years we will continue to develop clear measurable objectives to support these links and strengthen the links across our system to support the positive mental health of students and staff.