What is mental health?

Mental health is about your overall emotional wellbeing; everyone has mental health. Just like physical health you need to take care of yourself to keep a healthy mind.

The World Health Organization takes the perspective that “there is no health without mental health.”

Your mental health allows you to feel, think, act and cope with life. Your mental health can be influenced by your:

  • Life experiences; such as family stability, grief, surviving abuse or trauma
  • Relationships with others; friends, family, coworkers, or classmates
  • Environment; community, work or school
  • Physical health; serious illness or chronic conditions
  • Biology; the genes you were born with and brain chemistry
  • Family history of mental illness and addictions; can impact you indirectly

Moving to a new country can be particularly challenging for mental health. There are a lot of changes you need to adjust to at the same time with things like; culture shock, language barrier, stress from job search, waiting for your family to join you, lack of a local social network and so much more.

What does good mental health look like?

So-called “good” mental health is not as simple as living without a mental illness. People often use those words interchangeably but they are very different things. Just like someone who lives with asthma can have a healthy life, someone with a mental illness can too.

The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) defines good mental health as:

  • A sense of purpose
  • Strong relationships
  • Feeling connected to others
  • Having a good sense of self
  • Coping with stress
  • Enjoying life

When thinking of your physical health, it’s not always perfect; the same can be said for mental health. You may experience times of poor mental health without having a mental illness. Mental health changes can affect how you think, feel and act; it can be mild or severe but is rarely long-term.

Everyone will experience times of sadness, anger, loneliness and even nothing at all; some people call it “emotional numbness”. If you have recurring or ongoing episodes of poor mental health it may be a sign of something more serious and you should speak to your health care provider as soon as possible.

How can I take care of my mental health?

The most important thing to remember when you are working on maintaining good mental health; you aren’t doing it alone. Every setting and situation you’re in and each person you interact with can impact your well-being.

Your mental health can be improved and maintained with:

  • Healthy family, school, work relationships
  • Good working or school environments
  • Positive eating habits and choices
  • Regular physical activity
  • Community interactions that meet your needs
  • Safe and well-maintained housing
  • Access to supports; such as counselling and trusted friends

For More Information

  • ConnexOntario - Free and confidential health services information for people experiencing problems with alcohol and drugs, mental health and/or gambling. Available 24/7.
  • Mental Illness & Addiction Index - Links to information and resources about mental health and addiction. From the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.
  • Children’s Mental Health Centre - Child and youth mental health centres are available with virtual, phone and in-person walk-in clinics. Sessions are available for parents/caregivers too and don’t need a referral or OHIP card.
  • Promoting Positive Mental Health - Learn about positive mental health and how you can help promote it. From Canada.ca.
Last updated: February 20, 2024 4001307