Our Approach

What We Believe About Mental Health

Requires a

Mind-Body Approach

Occurs on a

Dual
Continuum

Benefits from

Positive
Stress

Mental health is the ability to navigate and recover from emotional, social and psychological stress. It is the resilience to cope with life events and maintain a general sense of happiness, contentment and well-being. It is more a journey than a destination.

Approach

I. Mental Health requires an integrated mind-body-spirit approach

Most of us think mental health occurs in the brain.

But mental and emotional health depends not just on your brain, but your whole body, What you eat, how you move, your hormones, your gut…it all matters to your mental health.

And even more than the whole body, your mental health also relies on your relationships, environment and community.

All three levels work together in concert to determine your stress level, your resilience, and your mental and emotional well-being.

Mental Health Occurs on a Dual Spectrum

Mental health can be viewed as a horizontal continuum. That spectrum includes general contentment and emotional well-being at one end; mild mental health issues like mild depression and anxiety in the middle; and extreme forms of mental illness, like deep depression, psychosis, schizophrenia and even suicide at the other end.

We may not have control over where we start on the spectrum. We come into the world with a genetic makeup, and our family and life experiences interact with our heredity to define our mental health.

Severe Mental and Emotional Disruption

Anxiety, Depression, Substance Dependence

General Stress, East at Times, Disruption at Times

General Mental and Emotional Wellbeing, Periodic Moments of Disruption

High Mental and Emotional Wellbeing

TAP EACH ICON ABOVE TO LEARN MORE

Severe Mental and Emotional Disruption

Anxiety, Depression, Substance Dependence

General Stress, East at Times, Disruption at Times

General Mental and Emotional Wellbeing, Periodic Moments of Disruption

High Mental and Emotional Wellbeing

However, as our friends at the Global Wellness Initiative point out, there is another spectrum of mental wellness. This added vertical axis captures the reality that people with diagnosed mental disorders can thrive with the right support, tools and practices. And people without a mental disorder can experience low emotional and mental wellness —such as overwhelming stress, loneliness and conflict—at times.

Dual Continuum Model of Mental Wellness

Adapted from The Global Wellness Institute
Flourishing
Mental
Health
Languishing
Mental
Illness

The horizontal axis refers to the spectrum of mental illness/mental health.

 

The vertical axis captures the mental wellness spectrum. 

 

Hover over each tile to learn more

The horizontal axis refers to the spectrum of mental illness/mental health.

 

The vertical axis captures the mental wellness spectrum. 

 

Tap a tile
 to learn more

 

  • Mental Wellness
  • Life satisfaction
  • Strong relationships
  • Personal growth

 

  • Resilience
  • Positive relationships
  • Positive coping
  • High functioning

 

  • Sadness & worry
  • Stress & anxiety
  • Loneliness
  • Disengagement
  • Debilitatation

 

  • Instability
  • Isolation/Conflicted relationships
  • Negative coping
  • Uncontrolled Symptoms
No matter where you land on the mental health spectrum, you can move yourself toward greater mental wellness by creating an ecosystem of mental wellness that includes the interlocking building blocks you need to build your mental and emotional resilience. The more building blocks you add, the more you’ll find yourself moving toward greater mental and emotional well-being. Start building your own ecosystem at our resources page.

Adapted from the Global Wellness Institute model, which was developed from concepts originally contributed by Keith Tudor (1996) and Corey L.M. Keyes (2002).

III. Positive Stress Can Build Mental and Emotional Resilience

We often think that relaxation, meditation and similar activities that relieve stress or make us feel peaceful are the main pathway to emotional and mental well-being. But have you ever considered the role of “positive stress?”

The “Yerkes-Dodson Curve” suggests that peak functioning requires an optimal level of stress – not too high, but also not too low. Positive stress, such as mild to moderate exertion, can benefit mental health.

Psychologist Dr. Kara Fasone says positive stress, sometimes called eustress (as opposed to distress), is all about sufficiently challenging yourself without expending all your resources. This type of stress empowers you to grow in three areas:

Emotionally, eustress can result in positive feelings of contentment, inspiration, motivation, and flow

Psychologically, eustress helps us build self-efficacy, autonomy and resilience

Physically, eustress helps us build our body (e.g., through completing a challenging hike or workout)

Most people have experienced the positive nature of pushing through into new levels of strength or flexibility with a physical regimen like strength training, aerobics and yoga. The same thing can happen with the mind.

Positive stress can build mental and emotional resilience.