I’ve written quite a bit on mental health in the past. Articles like:
- How can we improve mental health?
- Try this breathing exercise for stress release and getting rid of cortisol
- Crush your OCD with this one question
- Defeating anxiety and stress
But recently, I’ve been wondering about another question. What is psychological health? We hear a lot about what mental illness is but what about its opposite? What does a psychologically healthy person’s mind look like?
Much in the same way as an out-of-shape person has to aim to be an in-shape person, a person struggling with mental health has to know what they’re aiming at for in order to be mentally healthy.
It’s oddly tricky to find a good article about this on the internet. Try searching for ‘what is psychological health?’ and you don’t get much back.
But then I remembered I’d read an introduction to psychology book when I was younger, possibly whilst still at uni. It had a bit in it about what constituted psychological health. I found it after much searching at my Dad’s house.
It’s called Introducing Psychology by Nigel C. Benson and it’s a synopsis of the history of psychology. It’s got some superb diagrams and cartoons all designed to help the layman — ie. me.
In it, there are two theories about what constitutes psychological health:
The first is from Abraham Maslow. According to my edition of Benson’s book, at p.111:
Psychologically ‘healthy’ people show:
- An objective perception of reality
- Acceptance of their own natures
- A commitment and dedication to some type of work
- Naturalness, simplicity in behaviour, and spontaneity
- Independence; a need for autonomy and privacy
- Intense mystical/peak experiences
- Empathy with, and affection for, all humanity — including strong social interests
- Resistance to conformity
- Democratise characteristics
- Keenness to be creative
The second is from Carl Rogers. According to my edition of Benson’s book, at p.112:
The psychologically healthy person shows:
- An openness to all experiences
- An ability to live fully in every moment
- The will to follow their own instincts, rather than the will of others
- Freedom in thought and action, eg. spontaneity, flexibility
- Much creativity
Check out Benson’s great book here.