Achieving Good Mental Health

Home / Campus and Medical Center / ( Published on 2014-08-12 )

Most Americans believe that good emotional health is just as important as good physical health. In fact, the majority of Americans feel psychological health is important for overall good health. Indeed, research has shown that psychological health affects physical health.

"We’ve been told for so long to get physical checkups, but taking care of our emotional wellbeing has been sorely overlooked," said Dorothy Cantor, Psy.D., former president of the American Psychological Association. "We are whole people—whole in the sense that our minds and bodies are connected. If we only take care of our physical well-being and not our emotional well-being, it could come back to haunt us."

"When you have good emotional health, you’re able to experience feelings, share them appropriately, and not be overwhelmed by them. That doesn’t mean you can never be angry or sad. It means finding a balance and expressing your feelings appropriately," said Dr. Cantor.

Good psychological health means having the mental energy to function well at home, at work, and at play. It means being able to eat, sleep, and relax without feeling anxious, depressed or worried.

Some ways to achieve good mental health:

  • Talk to people you trust about what’s bothering you.
  • Try not to turn a bad day into a major catastrophe—we all have bad days once in a while.
  • Find time to do things you enjoy.
  • Spend time exercising and eating well.
  • Do not put yourself last on the priority list when caring for others.
  • Do not ignore signals that something is distressing you.
  • Seek professional help if your feelings seem overwhelming.

Dr. Cantor adds "People may need professional help to maintain good psychological health in much the same way that they need a dentist to examine a toothache, a physician to set a broken bone, and a lawyer to answer legal questions. When you have a question about your emotional health, psychologists and other mental health professionals can be a great resource to help you resolve your problems and help you find solutions you may not have known existed. However, many people don’t know when it’s appropriate to see a mental health professional, and don’t know how to find a mental health professional to help them."

The UCSF Faculty and Staff Assistance Program (FSAP) provides professional and confidential assessment, counseling, and referral services that support the wellbeing of both the individual and the organization. For an appointment or more information contact FSAP at 415/476-8279 or visit the FSAP website.