What is good mental health?
“Mental health means striking a balance in all aspects of your life: social, physical, spiritual, economic and mental. Reaching a balance is a learning process. At times, you may tip the balance too much in one direction and have to find your footing again. Your personal balance will be unique, and your challenge will be to stay mentally healthy by keeping that balance.” (CMHA National: http://www.cmha.ca/mental-health/your-mental-health/)
Mental health does not mean the absence of mental illness. We can all have good mental health, regardless of whether or not we are living with a mental illness.
What is recovery?
Recovery is the personal process that people with mental illness go through in gaining control, meaning and purpose in their lives. Recovery involves different things for different people. For some, recovery means the complete absence of the symptoms of mental illness. For others, recovery means living a full life in the community while learning to live with ongoing symptoms.
(CMHA Toronto: http://toronto.cmha.ca/mental-health/your-mental-health/recovery/)
What are some things I can do on my own to improve my mental health and support recovery from mental illness?
Formal mental health services and treatments provided by professionals in hospital, community-based settings, and private practices can be an important part of managing the symptoms of mental illness. There are also many things you can do on your own, based on your personal needs and preferences, to support your mental health and promote recovery.
Self-care is important for your mental health. Some examples of things we can do for our own mental health include but are not limited to the following:
- Eating well
- Listening to music
- Taking a bubble bath
- Going to a movie, or watching a movie at home
- Or simply whatever allows you to relax and unwind
Self-care is not just for someone recovering from a mental illness; it’s the things we do every day to nurture ourselves and look after our well-being.
What is social support?
Social support is the physical and emotional comfort given to us by our family, friends, co-workers and others. It’s knowing that we are part of a community of people who love and care for us, and value and think well of us.
- Are there people in your life you can turn to when you just need someone to talk to?
- Someone to help when your basement is flooded or you need someone to watch the kids?
- Or maybe just someone you can call when something really great happens and you want to share the news?
(CMHA Fort Frances: http://www.cmhaff.ca/social-support)
What are some ways that persons living with a mental illness can help one another?
Support groups and peer support are two examples of ways that persons living with a mental illness (sometimes referring to themselves as persons with lived experience or consumers) can offer support to one another.
What are support groups?
Support groups offer a way for people to share their common experiences and draw on their own strengths to help themselves and one another (CMHA Framework for Support).
Some support groups are run by consumers/persons with lived experience themselves, or they may be organized by a health authority or community-based organization.
What is peer support?
Peer support is a supportive relationship between people who have a lived experience in common. The peer support worker provides emotional and social support to others who share a common experience.
(Mental Health Commission of Canada: http://www.mentalhealthcommission.ca/English/focus-areas/peer-support)
Peer support can be offered informally or casually through social interactions or recreational activities, but it is often organized and run as a structured, formal program by persons with lived experience who are trained specifically to provide support.