Mental Health is a term that is being used more and more frequently as the world starts to grasp how important this topic actually is.
But what does it mean to be mentally healthy?
Do a quick search of the internet including my own website and you will see various different ways to improve your mental health. They often include things such as:

  • Seeking medical assistance
  • Talking about your issues
  • Exercise
  • Asking for help
  • Stay away from alcohol and drugs
  • Getting enough sleep

But I pose this question, ‘What does it mean to be mentally healthy, and how do you know if you are there yet?’
My answer in the article below is not from a course I have done, a book I have read or a university degree. No, it is from my own personal mental health journey with PTSD, Depression and Anxiety.
When I think of being mentally healthy, two words really resonate with me; Acceptance and Ownership.

First let me clarify that the already mentioned activities to maintain and improve your mental health are vitally important. But in this article I want to go that bit further and talk about being mentally healthy.
What that phrase means, and what it looks like, and no it is not a time in your life when everything is all beer-and-skittles.

For me the words Acceptance and Ownership are what I associate with being mentally healthy, not because when you have this everything is perfect, no not at all. Quite the contrary, I don’t believe that you have to be completely over of a mental illness or condition to be mentally healthy.

For me being mentally healthy has a different meaning.
It marked a point in my life when I accepted and took ownership that I do have  several mental illness conditions that I will probably deal with for the rest of my life in some way, shape or form.

But at that point in my life I accepted that and took ownership of it.
I accepted that having a number of mental health conditions or illnesses is not the end of the world and that I am not alone.

I accepted and took ownership that at certain times in my life the symptoms associated with these conditions would rare their ugly heads and test me once again. But that I am ready for that and all that comes with it.

But I identified that I was at a point in my life that I could accept that this was the case and I could own it. I could identify that I do have triggers and that I do know what they are and how to deal with them.
I accepted that having a number of mental health conditions was only as limiting as I let it be.
I accepted that it was not my fault that I have these conditions, but there is no use getting bitter and twisted on how I came to have them.
I took ownership of knowing that I was in control of taking action in my life when I was exposed to incidents or things that may trigger symptoms.
But most importantly for me I accepted that having a number of mental health conditions didn’t make me broken or a second class citizen.

Yes, I still have a lot to offer this world and my life’s purpose has only just begun. And funnily enough my life’s purpose has been born out of actually having been diagnosed with a number of mental health conditions. So if I dig that bit deeper, something good has actually come out of being exposed to all those not-so-nice incidents as a Police Officer.
I am now using my exposure and experiences with mental health conditions to help others.
Something good has come from something not so good!
Accepting and taking ownership of my mental health conditions allowed me to be at peace that things weren’t always going to be perfect. That I would possibly have struggles again at some point in my life. Being in this position changed one major thing in my life, it allowed me to come out of the shadows and talk, write and educate as many people in this world that I can about mental health.
It allowed me to say with confidence when I was asked that, yes I have struggled with my mental health, but you know I am OK with that.

The inner peace and self-satisfaction that comes with accepting that I have a number of mental health conditions, and that I have control over how I deal with them is when I became mentally healthy.

So next time you hear someone talking about being mentally healthy, don’t think it means everything has to be rainbows and butterflies.

What is should mean is that you are at a point where you are comfortable enough to identify there maybe issues, but that you are mentally healthy enough to accept and take ownership of them.

Being mentally healthy is more about being well enough and in a position to take the front foot with any issues, then having everything completely sorted and planned.
So take a moment to reflect on what I have just said. Are you mentally healthy?


Stuart Rawlins | Healthy Mind Healthy Future
Mental Health | Educator |Speaker |Writer

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