Healthy living

Mental health

  • Good mental health is a sense of wellbeing, confidence and self-esteem.
  • A mental illness is a health problem that significantly affects how a person thinks, behaves and interacts with others.
What is mental health?

Good mental health enables us to fully enjoy and appreciate other people, day-to-day life and our environment.

When we are mentally healthy we can:

  • form positive relationships
  • use our abilities to reach our potential
  • deal with life’s challenges.

See more articles about mental health

What are some tips to improve mental health?

A few tips for positive mental health are:

  • talk about or express your feelings
  • exercise regularly
  • eat healthy meals
  • get enough sleep
  • spend time with friends and loved ones
  • develop new skills
  • relax and enjoy your hobbies
  • set realistic goals
  • talk to your GP or a health professional.

See list of fun activities to help improve your mood.

What is mental illness?

A mental illness is a health problem that significantly affects how a person thinks, behaves and interacts with other people. It is diagnosed according to standardised criteria.

A mental health problem also affects how a person thinks, feels, and behaves, but to a lesser extent than a mental illness.

Mental illnesses are of different types and degrees of severity.

Some of the major types are:

These illnesses may also be referred to as a mental disorder, mental impairment or psychiatric disability.

See more articles about the types of mental illness, treatment and support services.

What causes mental illness?

Mental illness results from complex interactions between the mind, body and environment.

Factors which can contribute to mental illness are:

  • biological factors such as genetics, chemistry and hormones
  • use of alcohol, drugs and other substances cognitive patterns such as constant negative thoughts and low self-esteem
  • social factors such as isolation, financial problems, family breakdown or violence.

These factors can be minimised by a strong and supportive community environment.

More information

Where to get help

  • See your doctor
  • Visit healthdirect (external site) or call 1800 022 222
  • Mental Health Emergency Response Line (MHERL)
    Metro: 1300 555 788
    Peel: 1800 676 822
  • RuralLink
    Rural and remote areas: 1800 552 002


Mental Health Commission

This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.

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