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What Does Mental Health Mean to You?

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mental health month

men·tal health


How do you define it?

To commemorate Mental Health Month, we asked a few of our expert clinicians to let us know what mental health means to them.


From Cheryl Rampage, PhD, Executive Vice President of The Family Institute and Associate Director for Programs and Academic Affairs at The Center for Applied Psychological and Family Studies

“I think of mental health as the capacity to handle the ordinary demands of life, to love, to work, to be part of the social fabric, without being hindered by thoughts or feelings that can’t be controlled.”


From David Hauser, PhD:

“Interpersonal neurobiologist, Dr. Dan Siegel, likes to say “health is adaptation.”  For me this definition works quite well for mental health as well.  Mental health is the ability for a person to get their needs met, while adapting to and navigating through the environmental constraints that stand in the way of their needs being attended to.  Pursuing one’s own needs, while remaining empathic toward others’ needs is a true sign of mental health.


But by this definition, it is imperative first for individuals to identify what their needs are. Setting a course to meet goals that are not in sync with a person’s underlying wants and drives can be the catalyst for many mental health disorders.  I think too often, people think “knowing your own needs” is self-evident or obvious.  I think it is much harder to discover and then articulate one’s own needs than people realize.  Much “white noise,” such as media messages, social norms, and familial pressure can distract people from what they really want, and only by detecting what lay beneath this noise can one find what drives them and what will lead them to happiness and greater mental health.”


From Karen Skerret, PhD:

“Mental health involves the whole person-their strengths, resources and capacities. It is characterized by productive activities, fulfilling relationships and the ability to adapt to change and cope with challenges.”


From Lisa Gordon, PhD:

“Mental health means facing the world with a full armory of hope, joy, patience, and reason.”  



The Family Institute offers affordable family, couples and individual counseling at our Evanston, downtown Chicago, Lagrange Park and Northbrook locations. Visit our website to learn more.

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