What is Mental Health? - Action for Healthy Kids
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What is Mental Health?

What is mental health?  

Mental health refers to our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It influences how we make and keep relationships, how we express our feelings, how we make decisions, and how we manage the stresses, challenges, and joys of life. It is influenced by our environment, experiences, and backgrounds. It is also deeply connected to physical health: our mental health can affect our physical health, and our physical health can impact our mental health. For example, having depression (a mental health condition) can increase a person’s risk for heart disease (a physical illness), and having diabetes (a physical illness) can increase a person’s risk for anxiety (a mental health condition). Mental health itself is not good or bad; it is one dimension of well-being. Just as parents learn to recognize some basic signs of physical illness like fever, rash, or cough, we can also learn some basic signs that our children may be struggling with a condition that’s impacting their mental health like loneliness, anxiety, or depression.  

Mental health is relevant to everyone and at every stage of life. A person’s mental health can change over time and may be influenced by life circumstances and events, hormonal changes, genetic factors, relationships, medical conditions, and alcohol or drug use. 

Social-emotional wellness is related to mental health because it has to do with the skills and strategies that people use to identify and manage their thoughts and feelings, establish and maintain their relationships, cope with challenge and adversity, and make healthy short- and long-term decisions. 


This project on Improving Mental, Behavioral and Academic Supports to Students and Families, Part 2 is supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $434,555 with 100 percent funded by CDC/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by CDC/HHS, or the U.S. Government.