Now that we have talked about how mental health can be viewed as being above normal on a test or being optimistic; we should also take a look at the model that says that being mentally healthy is being mature. There is another model that talks about mental health being linked to high emotional and social intelligence. We are going to discuss both of them here.
Maturity & Mental Health
There have been various models that try to explain how people change across their life span. Among these the one given by Erik Erikson is the most influential one. He was the first one to propose that life isn’t necessarily a downward spiral after the age of 50. He believed that the needs of a person change across their lifespan and each need is different from the previous one.
There have been multiple studies that look into the links between maturity and mental wellness. The problem with a lot of them is that after the age of 50, our nervous system begins to deteriorate. This is also the normal age for onset of diseases like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s which may influence the test result. This makes it hard to prove scientifically that maturity is linked with better mental health.
Socio-Emotional Intelligence & Mental Health
It wasn’t until very recently that the concept of emotional and social intelligence was accepted by academicians. Previously it was believed that being able to perceive others emotions without overt expression was a trait instead of a skill. In recent times, emotional intelligence has become a hip word among new parents and teachers.
According to this view, mental health is being able to recognize the emotions of one’s own self and the people around him. It also includes being able to regulate one’s own emotions and influence the emotions of others. Being able to negotiate relationships with others is an important aspect as well.
Since the research into socio-emotional intelligence is relatively new, there isn’t a lot that is known about its effect on mental health yet. The development of fMRI though has been a major step in scientifically determining the effect one person can have on another. There isn’t a lot of consensus or data so far but it is generally agreed upon by various psychologists. They believe emotional intelligence is one of the most important traits in measuring someone’s mental health.
It looks like this is where the answer to what is mental health lies.