A great deal has been written about the symptoms of mental illness and it might be well to take the positive aspect and say what the symptoms of mental health are. Of course, a perfectly normal individual is an individual who at all times has complete control of his temper and other emotions and is able to work at 100 per cent efficiency. However, there is only about one person out of a thousand who can fill this definition which sets the standard too high.
To be mentally healthy there are twelve areas in which you should function well:
1. The individual should sleep well. Not only should he sleep well, but he should feel rested in the morning.
2. The individual should be perfectly in contact with reality. We all probably have some method by which we escape reality temporarily or use to take the edge off reality such as social drinking, reading, movies and possibly gambling, but we are concerned here with the two types of individuals who carry the above mentioned methods or other methods to extreme.
One type is the individual who lives in day dreams and makes no pretense to make his day dreams come true. This is what we call destructive day dreaming.
The second type of individual always ducks his problems and when these problems become sufficiently marked so that he can no longer duck them and he has to face them, he becomes depressed.
3. The individual should have a normal mood. That is, he should not have any periods of marked depression or any marked periods of elation. If this is not the case, he might as well be mentally ill.
4. The individual should have an average temper and there are two types of individuals who may become unhealthy in this respect; the individual who never loses his temper and the individual who is always irritable. The individual who doesn’t lose his temper is very much like a boiler in which the safety valve is stuck and may blow up at any time. Of course, there are some individuals who have not learned to control their temper. The normal individual who isn’t mentally ill should have a temper and should display it when it is justified, but should keep it in control.
5. The normal individual should not be suspicious unless there is definite cause for this and there usually isn’t. There are some mentally ill individuals who are always afraid someone is going to get the best of them.
6. The normal individual is not jealous or at least not jealous to an extreme degree. Jealousy is an abnormal emotion and, consequently, an emotion that should be held down. If it is not controlled, it can, like suspicion, lead to symptoms of abnormal mental conditions, namely delusions or false ideas.
7. The individual in good mental health doesn’t worry without good cause. However, there are individuals who are constantly making mountains out of mole hills and always keep themselves stirred up over little things.
8. The mentally healthy individual is a social individual and is not elusive. In other words, he prefers to be around people, but when alone he can adjust himself well. As a matter of fact, there are times when an individual wants to be alone for at least a short period of time so he can really think and meditate.
9. The normal individual who is not mentally ill is active and his activity is always directed. He doesn’t go around like a chicken with his head cut off.
10. The normal individual has good physical health, yet there are a lot of average individuals who are always talking about having an ache here and a pain there. The normal individual realizes his body works better if he doesn’t think about it and doesn’t pay any attention to minor aches and pains.
11. The individual with good mental health is adequate in the usual environment. He has the ability to go ahead and do things on his own and only occasionally has to ask for advice.
12. All habits, particularly abnormal escapes from reality, such as drinking and gambling, and even sleeping, should be within moderate limits and should be controlled.
If you are deficient in four of these areas, it is very possible that you need to see a psychiatrist. If you are deficient in six or more of these areas, you definitely need psychiatric help because you just might be mentally ill.