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What is Mental Health and How Can You Improve It?

Updated: Feb 12

Mental health is a common phrase that appears everywhere these days. But what does it mean - and is it possible to achieve good mental health at all times?




WHAT IS MENTAL HEALTH?

The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines mental health as “a state of well-being in which an individual realises his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.”


It is important to note that mental health is not simply the absence of a mental disorder.


Poor mental health is more prevalent than you may think:

  • 1 in 6 people in the past week experienced a common mental health problem

  • Up to 10% of people in England will experience depression in their life

  • Women are more likely than men to have a common mental health problem

  • Women are twice as likely to be diagnosed with anxiety disorders than men

(Statistics sourced from Mental Health Foundation UK)



WHAT CAUSES POOR MENTAL HEALTH?

Poor mental health can be caused by a wide range of different issues. For women in their midlife, the most common symptoms of poor mental health include:


  • Significant life-changing events, such as divorce or widowhood

  • Changes in family life, such as a child leaving home

  • The physical, emotional, and mental effects of menopause


Often, it is a combination of these factors, alongside other more minor stressors, that can cause poor mental health to arise and be sustained. However, there are ways to prevent this from occurring, and we hope to support you on that journey.



HOW MOVEMENT CAN IMPROVE YOUR MENTAL HEALTH

One of the easiest ways to start working on your mental health is through physical movement. Physical health and mental health are closely linked, and mental health charity Mind advises “looking after your body can help to keep you mentally well.”


We recommend starting small, and following our four-step process to unlocking the joy of movement in your body. Our 4U Action Plan will guide you through:


  • Ready 4 Change – Prepare and plan, know the sign of poor health and recognise different solutions

  • Ready 4 Guidance – Choose and focus, find what feels good for you and your body, add in activities to support your mental health

  • Ready 4 Action – Make and maintain changes, recognising what works well for you in different situations

  • Ready 4 Life - Recognise and review your progress, congratulate yourself how far you’ve come and your success