29 October 2020 | Story Carmine Nieman | Photo Pexels
The Division of Organisational Development (OD) and Employee Wellness has developed numerous interventions to enhance employees' holistic well-being and to impact the university's climate and employee functioning.

October is Mental Health Awareness Month; everyone must understand what mental health is and what can be done to help improve mental health. Creating a better understanding, raising awareness, and distributing resources may be the ultimate solution to improve overall mental health and well-being.

The definition of mental health is broad and may be confusing or overwhelming for some individuals. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), mental health is defined as: “a state of well-being in which the individual realises his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community”. Other definitions describe mental health as a set of symptoms of positive functioning and feelings, representing an individual’s well-being (Keyes, 2002). 

The existing broad definitions of mental health may be less confusing or overwhelming when individuals know what is included or excluded in this definition. Mental health, similar to mental ill health, can be defined as a set of symptoms present at a specific level (Keyes, 2002). Still, the difference is that mental health symptoms overlap with the distinction between the social and cognitive functioning of an individual (Keyes, 2002). Therefore, mental health and well-being can be defined as more than just the absence of psychopathology; it is also the presence of emotional, psychological, and social well-being (Keyes, 2002, 2005). Furthermore, mental health should be seen in relation to all the other areas of well-being: social, spiritual, financial, environmental, physical, and occupational. Well-being is a holistic approach, and therefore all the areas of well-being influence each other either positively or negatively. This concept is usually misunderstood, but it is crucial to improving well-being and health. For instance, occupational well-being is one of the most important social determining factors of mental health, since the environment at work and the organisation can have a profound effect on the mental health and well-being of employees (World Health Organisation, 2020). On the opposite side, negative mental health damages an individual’s cognitive, behavioural, emotional, social, and interpersonal functioning (World Health Organisation, 2020). 

There is a bigger picture to mental health than most people realise. Mental health should be a priority for every individual. Still, it is essential to broaden the understanding of mental health and broaden the approach to increasing mental health. Mental health is part of a holistic well-being approach, focusing on all the well-being areas that influence each other. It is imperative to focus on a holistic approach to disease prevention and health promotion, which is dynamic and results in high energy and performance and an enhanced quality of life. 

The Division of Organisational Development (OD) and Employee Wellness has developed numerous interventions to enhance employees' holistic well-being and to impact the university's climate and employee functioning. The following holistically focused interventions are available to improve employee well-being:

• Workout@Home online
• Psychological and emotional debriefing sessions
• Well-being webinars
• Self-care workshop
• Thriving, not just surviving campaign
• MBTI team development sessions
• Coping with COVID-19 presentations
• #StayWellStayStrong
• I am Employee Wellness Programme
• CareWays
• Talent management
• Culture and engagement initiatives 
• OD and research initiatives 

Improving mental health should not be seen in isolation, but rather in collaboration with other well-being areas. We hope that your understanding of mental health has been enhanced by the bigger picture, namely holistic well-being. It is essential to see the bigger picture when it comes to mental health, since this may help to improve overall health and well-being. We also hope that you will create awareness of mental health and utilise and distribute the available resources we offer. 

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