Thinkstock Share: Finding Balance What is mental health? According to the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), “mental health means striking a balance in all aspects of one’s life: social, physical, spiritual, economic and mental. At times, the balance may be tipped too much in one direction and one’s footing has to be found again. Everyone’s personal balance is unique and the challenge is to stay mentally healthy by keeping the right balance. Mental health is as important as physical health. The World Health Organization (WHO) has always considered mental well-being as an integral part of the general definition of health. WHO defines health as, “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” (Canadian Mental Health Association) What is mental illness? CMHA defines mental illness as, “a term used to refer to a variety of mental disorders that can be diagnosed. Mental disorders are health conditions that are characterized by alternations in thinking, mood, or behavior (or some combination thereof) associated with distress and/or impaired functioning” (Canadian Mental Health Association). What is the Mental Health Continuum? The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) developed a Mental Health Continuum that helps to explain how people cope. It describes the spectrum of mental health concerns that may impact CAF members and their families. Mental health is not an all or nothing concept – individuals are not either sick or healthy - rather, mental health exists along a continuum. The Mental Health Continuum describes a spectrum of mental health concerns that may impact CAF members and their families. The Mental Health Continuum indicates where the individual’s mental health falls along the Continuum. The state of our mental health can move along the continuum in both directions depending on life events, health and wellness, stress and external circumstances. Mental health affects us all. At different times in our lives we all experience varying levels of need related to our mental health. Sometimes our mental health is challenged by difficult situations that can be eased with time and informal support. Other times the challenges are significant enough that we require specialized assistance. People respond differently to the same challenges, and even to the same mental illness – some will require more assistance than others to cope. The movement is in both directions along the continuum, indicating there is always the possibility for a return to complete health and functioning. What is the Military Family Services Program Mental Health Framework? Military Family Resource Centres (MFRCs) offer a wide variety of mental health programs and services in accordance with the Military Family Services Program (MFSP) Mental Health Framework. These services range from outreach and engagement, to peer support, to psychoeducation, to psychosocial to mental health treatment. Couples and family members may experience relationship tensions and difficulty dealing with stressful life events so they may need family or couples therapy to give them some support to get back on track and a path to happiness and wellness. Contact your MFRC to see what types of mental health programs and services are available at your location.