WHat is mental health?

Despite what many of us may think about mental health, mental health relates to the health of our mind.

Mental comes from the Latin word "mentalis" meaning "mind", the prefix "men" means "to think" and is thought to have been penned at or around the 15th century. Around the 16th century the word mental evolved to relate to "the soul" or as something "done or performed in the mind". It wasn't until the mid-1920s when the term mental began to relate to crazy.

Health is not always about being sick or unwell. The word "health" came from an old Germanic language about 500 BCE as "hailitho" meaning "whole, uninjured, of good omen".

In terms of mental health, we really are talking about the state of our mind, in how we think and feel and how our mind responds to the external environment. One's health can range from excellent to poor based on an observation but my health is different to your health – my whole being is different to your whole being and so really one's health is certainly a matter of perception.

Without getting too philosophical about meaning and ancient German or Latin languages, health in today's workplace is seen as not only the physical health but also the health of our minds.

Just as we can be injured or become ill by so many different things at work, our mind can also be injured or become ill by many different things, such as violence and trauma, job demands and control, support, role clarity, change, physical environment and location.

How our body responds to an injury is predictable – how our mind responds to the external environment is as well. Risk management strategies look at that which can injure or make us ill, damage assets and equipment and lead to loss within the organisation. It also needs to look at our people's responses to the environment we are in and the individual and collective reaction to the stimulus.

What can we do to build our own mental response strategy?

Headspace has a great handout for people to download as a guide for building some personal resilience to deal with life's challenges, not just in the workplace.

Some will say "Yep, easier said than done!" and in many ways, some changes are easier than others to achieve but it only takes one step to move in any direction…what's your move?