The 5 ways: supporting mental well-being where people live, work, play, and learn

Taking care of your mind is equally as important as taking care of your body. That’s why City of Hamilton Public Health Services is rolling out a community campaign focusing on how to care for our mental well-being using the 5 Ways to Mental Well-Being. The 5 Ways are simple activities that can support and build mental well-being when practiced regularly.

What is Mental Well-Being?  Mental well-being is the capacity of people to feel, think, and act in ways that enhance the ability to enjoy life and deal with challenges. This means everyone, including those who are struggling or have a mental illness, has the capacity to feel good and function well in their lives.  It is best supported by a balance of social, physical, psychological and emotional well-being.

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Just like we learn how to take care of our physical wellbeing through nutrition, exercise, and washing our hands, it’s equally as important we take steps to care for our mental well-being. The 5 Ways provide parents, caregivers and families with simple, evidence based activities they can choose to support, encourage and participate in with their children that will support child mental well-being. While the campaign is largely focused on supporting mental well-being in the family, these activities are applicable to everyone.

Public Health nurses first introduced this message locally during in the 2016/17 school year in Health Promoting Partnership Elementary and Secondary Schools; it was instantly and enthusiastically embraced. Children and youth report they feel empowered to initiate these actions; parents report they are able to support their children and encourage activities that promote mental well-being.

The 5 Ways to Mental Well-being was developed by the New Economics Foundation in the United Kingdom and is used extensively around the world.

The 5 Ways:

  • Connect: Build healthy relationships, spend time together with family, friends, and people in the community.
  • Keep Learning: Try something new, keep your mind active. Read books just for enjoyment. Try cooking, sewing, building, painting, visit an art gallery, museum, or library.
  • Be active: Move to feel good. Being physically active can boost mood, reduce stress, increase energy levels, and improve concentration and confidence.
  • Take notice: Be aware of your thoughts and feelings and the world around you.
  • Give back: Find joy in helping others. Helping, sharing, and participating in the community is linked with an increased sense of purpose and satisfaction.

Additional Resources

Learn more about the 5 Ways to Mental Well-Being including activities that support mental well-being for the whole family: www.hamilton.ca/5ways

Message from Dr. Elizabeth Richardson

New Economics Foundation: 5 ways to wellbeing