What is Mental Health?


Mental health is the capacity of each and all of us to feel, think and act in ways that enhance our ability to enjoy life and deal with the challenges we face. It is a positive sense of emotional and spiritual well-being that respects the importance of culture, equity, social justice, inter connections, and personal dignity (Public Health Agency of Canada, 2006).

Keyes’ Model (2002) illustrates that mental health is a complex state and not merely the absence of mental illness symptoms or diagnosis. It is also the presence of something positive. The horizontal line measures mental illness. The vertical measures a person’s mental health as a separate but interrelated concept. In considering mental health and mental illness as separate but related - this model demonstrates how those with many attributes of mental health (emotional, psychological, and social well-being) can still have varying degrees of mental illness – and how even those with high levels of mental illness can have many attributes of mental health . A critical message of Keyes’ work is that maintenance and protection of positive mental health, and not just alleviation of mental distress, is necessary to achieve a mentally healthy population.


Keyes Mental Health Model