The phrase mental health pops up everywhere. Maybe you read it in a news report. Or maybe your favorite TikToker talks about something being bad for his mental health. You might even get an excused mental health day at your school. Yet even though the term is common, it’s rare that someone stops to explain what it means.
So before we go any further, a quick definition. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, when we talk about mental health, we’re talking about our “emotional, psychological, and social well-being.” Our mental health has an effect on our thoughts, our behavior, and our actions.
Just as with physical health, no one has perfect mental health all the time. It’s normal to go through periods of having good mental health, and it's also normal to struggle, especially when you’re a teen.
“Right now you’re trying to figure out so much: who to be in the world, the way your body is changing, the way other people are changing,” says Gauri Khurana. She’s a psychiatrist specializing in teens.
According to Khurana, “It could be pretty abnormal if you were feeling completely steady and confident in every part of your life every single day."
The good news is, there are many things you can do to keep your mental health as, well, healthy as possible. In the same way that doing things like eating well, getting enough sleep, and staying physically active can all help your body, many behaviors can enhance your mental health. If you do them regularly, you’ll have a better time handling stress, getting along with others, and facing challenges.
Think you know what mental health is and isn’t, and how to keep yours in the best shape possible? Take this quiz to bust some myths and learn some of the facts about mental health.