In general, it is understood to have mental health as the opposite of mental illness or the absence of psychopathology, that is, a normal state of health.
However, the absence of psychiatric symptoms is only the visible part of objective normality but does not reveal other important aspects of mental health, such as resilience, mental capacity, etc.
Thus, to have health, the absence of psychiatric symptoms is not enough, but it is necessary to have the capacity and resources to face the difficulties of life, not getting sick, and to live in psychic well-being, that is, to have mental toughness.
Some indicators of mental health that can be improved are: adapting to work, establishing stable and lasting affective relationships, resilience, emotional intelligence, maturity, autonomy, ability to be alone, etc.
The person with mental health feels good, happy, with joy. These subjective feelings come from the well-being achieved, for example, with self-control, self-efficacy, love and being loved and not obtained through the use of drugs, risk behaviors or immediate satisfaction of primitive needs.
We must also distinguish that experiencing negative emotions does not mean that there is no mental health. In the case of loss, mourning, tragedy, etc., the ability to recognize and deal with one's own negative emotions and those of others is a sign of mental health.
If we take the intellectual capacities of the people as an example, we say that someone with intellectual deficit is ill, but a non-patient can have several intellectual levels, namely, middle, superior and much higher.
The person with a high level of mental health has abilities that make it adequate, stable, capable, balanced, even in adverse situations.
Therefore, we can have more or less health, even without being ill. Just as a person may not have heart disease but has a greater or lesser ability to withstand physical exercise. In the same way that through health measures, food, regular practice of physical exercise, the person can improve their cardiovascular health and physical condition, it is also possible to intervene in order to increase the state of mental health.
The requirement of mental toughness is greater according to certain professions or performances. For example, commercial aviation and, in the extreme, space aviation, but also other areas such as education and health are an example of the important need for mental health.
To achieve a good state of mental health the person must increase his level of self-knowledge, increase the capacity to deal with the different emotions and to elaborate the internal conflicts. This may require specialized psychological intervention.
In addition, a balanced life with low levels of stress, stable family and social relationships, physical activity practice, respect for sleep / wake rhythms, respect for individual physical and psychic limits, balance between professional and leisure activities , are some factors that may contribute to better mental health.
Mental health status also depends on the global biological and cerebral state, and the use of drugs to reach or maintain it, despite other mental health measures, is very important.
Psychiatric and psychological interventions in this regard are not limited to pathological, but promote the healthier defense and adaptation mechanisms when the person is at risk, conflict, helpless or simply wants to improve their quality of life.
Drugs have made a major breakthrough and contributed significantly to improving mental health, but they are not the only answer.Many other interventions are important. For example, in the context of preventing the onset of mental illness and the psychosocial recovery of those affected by mental illness.
Mental health, though assessed by psychiatry and psychology, concerns many other areas of human and social knowledge, such as philosophy, sociology, law, politics, and so on.
Poverty, neglect, abuse, and family violence are examples of situations that can lead to loss of mental health. Thus., to promote mental health, in social terms, it is necessary to intervene in these conditions preventively, through a multidisciplinary intervention.
In individual terms, the use of drugs may suffice to treat mental illness, but to achieve the goal of promoting better mental health, there is a need for a therapeutic investment in psychological aspects.
In fact we think that a model of mental promotion is what, also in the treatment, translates into a more productive evaluation and goals.
In clinical practice, over the years, we have empirically proven that the success of clinical intervention is greater and longer lasting when the goal is to provide the person with greater psychological resources to deal with internal and external situations.
This model of mental health also implies that even those without psychiatric symptomatology or mental illness benefit from interventions or help that promote their mental capacities. Therefore, too, the "normal", that is, without symptoms, can improve your health and, consequently, increase the quality of life.