Definition of mental health
Mental health is defined not just in terms of the absence of mental disorder, but is a state of wellbeing in which every 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. (WHO)
The Mental Health Foundation states:
‘Good mental health is characterised by a person’s ability to fulfil a number of key functions and activities, including:
- The ability to learn
- The ability to feel, express and manage a range of positive and negative emotions
- The ability to form and maintain good relationships with others
- The ability to cope with and manage change and uncertainty’
Imperial College London aims to support and empower students with mental health difficulties to feel confident talking about the issue without facing stigma from friends and colleagues ().
The terminology associated with mental health and ill health can be confusing, as the terms are used by the general population and professionals in many different ways. Mental health is often seen in terms of mental ‘illness’, a term which does not encompass a range of complex human processes, feelings and behaviours. There is a wide spectrum of mental health difficulties ranging from severe mental illness to general psychological or emotional difficulties. The College recognises that there are other models and languages for describing these human experiences apart from the medical/social that the College used in this document. Students themselves may choose to define their experiences differently which is acknowledged in our work supporting them.