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What is mental health?


What is mental health?
(Image: CERN)

According to the World Health Organization (WHO): "Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity."

Mental health is an important part of health. Being in good health means being in good physical and mental health.

Mental health is a state of well-being in which we can realise our potential, overcome life’s obstacles, work productively and participate in community life. It encompasses all emotional, physical, social and spiritual dimensions.

Our mental health evolves constantly throughout our lifetime and does not depend only on what is going on inside our head. Many internal and external factors can affect our mental health, positively or negatively:

  • Lifestyle: diet, exercise, sleep quality, use of psychoactive substances, etc.
  • Experiences: education, friends, love life, abuse, illness, successes and failures, grief, etc.
  • Inner resources unique to each of us: especially the ability to identify and manage our emotions, self-esteem and self-confidence, good physical health, etc.
  • Social, economic and political context: social support, family ties, economic situation, working conditions, etc.
  • Biological factors and family history: genes, brain chemistry and family mental-health history.

When our mental health is disturbed, it can take its toll on our daily activities, relationships, work, self-image and sense of well-being.

Remember, your general health also relies on your mental health.

If you feel that you would benefit from talking professional or personal matters through with a professional, don’t hesitate to contact us. The Medical Service offers all members of the personnel (MPE and MPA) first-line psychological counselling. Appointments with our psychologists, Katia Schenkel and Sébastien Tubau, are free of charge and strictly confidential: https://hse.cern/content/psychologist

For more information:


The next article in this series will focus on the signs and symptoms of mental health problems and how to recognise them.