MIND MATTERS: What is ‘good’ mental health?

Good mental health is not just the absence of mental illness.
Published: May. 15, 2023 at 6:22 PM CDT
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SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) - According to the American Sociology Association, one in fives Americans say politics, their job, and crime affect their mental health. This might sound like normal everyday life, but you might be asking yourself... Do I have good mental health? One Shreveport therapist explains.

Good mental health is more than just the absence of mental illness, says Heather Howard, LPC, a licensed therapist who has her own practice in Shreveport.

“Good mental health means we’re coping well. We are able to regulate our emotions, our relationships are good, we can set up decent boundaries with people, including ourselves. You know, sometimes we have to set up boundaries so that we don’t mess up, like if we know we have an issue, let’s say drinking, we set a boundary with ourselves and say, ‘no, that’s a no no now.’ Good mental health is when all these things are functioning together and there’s no distress in our lives or in our relationships,” Howard said.

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines “good” mental health as when you can:

  • cope with the normal stress of life
  • work productively
  • realize your potential
  • contribute to the community

Howard says people with good mental health experience a number of emotions and are generally satisfied with life. Here’s a checklist to help determine if you have good mental health:

  • you feel confident when faced with new situations or people
  • you feel optimistic
  • you do not always blame yourself
  • you set goals
  • you feel good about yourself
  • you have good self esteem
This wheel can help you determine how you're feeling.
This wheel can help you determine how you're feeling.(Heather Howard)