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What is Mental Health?

Mental Health is about how we think, feel and act as we deal with life’s ups and downs. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices.

Like physical health, mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through to adulthood.

Being mentally healthy is not necessarily about being free from problems.

What is Mental Health?

You need to take care of your mental health

Just as we would take care of a sore ankle by taking corrective action and perhaps resting and not putting additional strain on it for a while, we can take care of our mental health in the same way.  By not overloading ourselves and by practicing good mental health maintenance activities, we can get back on track.

For some people, poor mental health can turn into mental illness

Everyone feels worried, anxious, sad or stressed at various times in their lives and this is perfectly normal. With a mental illness, these thoughts and feelings do not go away and are severe enough to interfere with daily life. It can make it hard to meet and keep friends or other important relationships, hold a job, or enjoy your life. Mental illness is about impaired functioning and general loss of quality of life.

Mental health is part of Te Whare Tapa Wha
– the 4 Cornerstones of Health

The Te Whare Tapa Wha (Professor Mason Durie) model of health reinforces the importance of nurturing all four cornerstones of our health [Hinengaro, Tinana, Wairau and Whanau] for overall health and wellbeing.

There is a strong relationship between physical and mental health.

In addition, whanau, social support, family wellbeing and how well we are able to live life in a way that feels meaningful and aligned with our values all contribute to overall health and wellbeing.  It is important we nurture all four areas.

Your mental health is important to the NZDF

The Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand reports that just under 50% of Kiwis will experience mental illness or addiction at some point in their lives with one in five people affected within any one year.

Data from Defence Health suggests the rates are similar for our people. However, we probably don’t have the full picture. For example, we don’t know who accesses mental health support outside the military system, and we don’t know how many people choose not (or don’t know how) to access help at all.

Depression, anxiety and alcohol issues are the more common. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or other operational stress injuries are less common.

This website contains information on your mental health and useful tools to help maintian mental and overall wellbeing.