Positive mental health improves happiness and can help children and youth weather the normal ups and downs of life.

What is positive mental health?

Mental health is more than the absence of mental illness. Positive mental health is a state of well-being that allows us to enjoy our lives and can help children and youth weather the normal ups and downs of life.

Positive mental health includes a variety of components of well-being, including:

  • Positive emotions
  • Life satisfaction
  • Sense of purpose in life
  • Positive psychological coping and adaptation
  • Social and emotion competencies
  • Positive relationships and attitudes

Good mental health is also not static — it changes over time depending on what is happening in our lives. That is why, just like our physical health, we must work at it.

Why is positive mental health important?

A strong foundation in childhood can lead to a healthy, happy and productive life. Good mental health contributes to strong relationships and better health at home and school. It can also help to prevent the onset of other mental health issues like anxiety and depression.

Positive mental health is positively associated with:

  • Academic success
  • Positive connections
  • Positive adaptations
  • Prosocial attitudes and behaviours
  • Healthy lifestyle behaviours

How can parents support positive mental health?

Parents can help support positive mental health by forming strong and caring relationships with their children.

  • Connect – talk and listen to their feelings and experiences.
  • Be active together – take a walk and build physical activity into family time.
  • Take notice – encourage and praise the positive behaviours and choices your children make.
  • Keep learning – encourage your child to learn from both positive and negative experiences.
  • Give – your time, your words, your presence.

Sometimes, parents feel like they don’t know what to say or how to interact with their youth. This illustrated guide has been developed by youth for the adults in their lives to help guide successful conversations.

How can teachers promote positive mental health?

School is an important place to help students build self-esteem, self-confidence and a sense of control over their lives. Teachers have an incredible impact on the lives of their students and have a role to play in developing positive mental health. By involving the whole school community, teachers can foster supportive relationships within their classrooms and schools.

You may be interested in exploring the following programs that promote positive mental health in the classroom: