Assessing our mental health is not as simple as measuring our physical health. There are no scales or endurance tests that rate mental fitness. Understanding the characteristics that make up good mental health can help us determine how mentally fit we are. Here are some real-life examples:

Ability to enjoy life

You’ve just become engaged. You join your friends and family in celebrating the future you are planning with your partner. You realize that life after marriage will bring challenges, but worries about problems that may crop up do not dim the joy you feel. You are able to enjoy life.


You have been looking forward to your summer because you plan to finish some home projects, including a deck you’ve long wanted to build. You find out just before school is out that you need to have surgery for a ruptured disc. This means months of recovery time and limited physical activity. You are not the type of person to sit around. After railing about how disappointed you are and hating the idea of surgery, you recognize that the surgery needs to be done and you start reframing your concept of how you will spend the summer, such as taking the time to relax and read a few books. You are resilient.


An old friend confronts you, saying you never have time for him. You are taken aback and give the excuse of overwork. Then you look at it from your friend’s point of view and realize you have been letting that relationship and other personal interests slide. You make a commitment to restore the balance in your life.


You love teaching and feel you have been very creative in the way you approach teaching English and literature in your classroom. You begin to recognize that your love of the field is also tied to your love of writing. You have always wanted to write a novel and you have let life get in the way of that dream. Taking some positive steps toward your dream, you have joined a writers’ group for support and have worked out a weekly schedule with your spouse to enable you to devote some time to working on your novel. You are practising self-actualization.


The love of your life has walked out. You are devastated and feel like all your plans for the future have been ruined. After grieving for a time, you begin to see that your expectations of the relationship and of your partner were unrealistic. Gradually, you reconsider what you want and expect from a partner and consider dating with these new considerations in mind. You are flexible.

Canadian Mental Health Association Ontario