Mental health

Mental health: What is it and How can we help?

What is it and how can we help

Mental health can be demonstrated as the ability to:

  • Begin, grow and maintain different relationships that have a mutual benefit
  • Face problems, to resolve and learn from them
  • Be confident and assertive
  • Be aware of others and empathise with them
  • Use and enjoy solitude
  • Play and have fun
  • Laugh at both myself and the world.

Just as there are many issues which can affect our lives and our mental health, we believe there are many ways in which we can promote positive mental health and awareness of mental distress.

Discussing Feelings and Emotions

Some schools have now begun to teach ’emotional literacy’ to help children and young people to develop other important life skills.

But what is ’emotional literacy’?

Emotional literacy is:

“The ability to recognise, understand, handle and appropriately express emotions”
National Emotional Literacy Interest Group

Sometimes children and adults cannot name or express their emotions.

They may not have the vocabulary or the insight to identify what they are feeling, or where the feeling comes from.

Sometimes we need to learn what emotion we are experiencing – is it anger, sadness, happiness, frustration, fear? – and to allow ourselves to feel and understand them.

Emotional literacy enables people to take responsibility for understanding their personal emotions.

Emotional literacy strengthens a child’s resilience to cope with life’s ‘risk factors’, which may have a negative impact on well-being.

A direct benefit of emotional literacy is:

“emotionally literate young people are less likely to experience mental distress, and if they do develop it then they are less likely to suffer long term” – Mental Health Foundation 1998

In the same way that we can think of ourselves as being literate or computer literate in varying degrees, so too we all have degrees of emotional literacy.

The degree to which we are emotionally literate reflects the degree to which we are able to recognize, understand, handle and appropriately express our emotions.

Just like literacy in language or computers, some of us are better at it than others, but it is something which all of us can learn and benefit from.

As we become more emotionally literate, we can:

reflect on all our feelings
be open to life even when there is uncertainty
feel more empowered
develop a greater belief in ourselves and our abilities
How do I become more emotionally literate?

Can you:

name your feelings?
give yourself permission to speak about your feelings safely?
name the things that stress you out?
name and do the things that make you happy?