Mental Health and Well Being

Mental Health Guidance

In order to support mental health it is helpful to consider what we mean by this and how we can, as individuals, support our own mental health and those of the people we share the world with.

Central to our mental health is the relationship we have with ourselves and the experiences which have shaped us to date.  Developing a coherent narrative of our lives is an ongoing process as we live and one which is well documented to support mental health (see Siegel 2010, Perry etc.) 

The Triangle of Well-Being model (Siegel 2019) identifies the role of  mind, brain and relationships to support our sense of self and which co-evolve to make up who we are and how we are in the world


This is evident in what is known as Attachment theory which identifies the significance of our earliest relationships with our primary caregivers which lay down the blueprint of our developing brain.

The brilliance of being human is that we have, the capacity to change on many levels – both our attachment circuitry remains plastic throughout life and our capacity to build new neural structures.  Therefore ‘history might influence us but needn’t define us’.

Our mind is far more than just ‘brain activity’ but a complex system encompassing the whole of us. Siegel and other respected physicians refer to the ‘embodied brain’ which acknowledges our first 2 brains (intestinal and heart) and 3rd brain which is skull encased. 

This is evident in phrases we use to describe feelings and thoughts – I had butterflies in my stomach, it was gut wrenching, I felt like my heart was breaking, I felt my heart drop other

Developing an integrated state within ourselves allows us to be in the ‘flow’, able to stay steady in the face of challenges or difficulties and therefore have what can be described as good mental health. .  Daniel Siegel refers to this as FACES.  We are and can remain:

Flexible, Adaptable, Coherent, Energised, Stable

When one of these elements becomes unstable, our mental health becomes unbalanced resulting in either chaos or rigidity or both.

Good mental health is a process and because we are complex beings living complex lives it can fluctuate with the experiences we go through however there are activities we can engage in which can support our health.

We can cultivate 3 aspects of our mind:

1 Training of focused attention

  1. Train Awareness – to be open (moving away from judgement to noticing, being present with what is)
  2. Training Intention – compassion for self and others and creating an intentional state to ‘be kind’

And we can maintain our well-being and mental health  through ensuring that we engage in seven daily essential mental activities to optimize brain matter and create well-being.   Siegel refers to this as ‘The Healthy Mind Platter’:

Focus Time

When we closely focus on tasks in a goal-oriented way, we take on challenges that make deep connections in the brain.

Play Time

When we allow ourselves to be spontaneous or creative, playfully enjoying novel experiences, we help make new connections in the brain.

Connecting Time

When we connect with other people, ideally in person, and when we take time to appreciate our connection to the natural world around us, we activate and reinforce the brain's relational circuitry.

Physical Time

When we move our bodies, aerobically if medically possible, we strengthen the brain in many ways.

Time In

When we quietly reflect internally, focusing on sensations, images, feelings and thoughts, we help to better integrate the brain.

Down Time

When we are non-focused, without any specific goal, and let our mind wander or simply relax, we help the brain recharge.

Sleep Time

When we give the brain the rest it needs, we consolidate learning and recover from the experiences of the day.


Psychotherapy Excellence Conference February 2019 ‘Developing Minds: Mental Health, Children and Young People featuring Daniel Siegel

The above is founded within academic research (see Bessel van der Kolk 2014, Jon Kabat-Zin 2013, Daniel Siegel 2010, 2019, Louis Cozolino 2016) amongst others as well as Daniel Siegel’s work and the Mindsight Institute.

Useful websites:

The link to the document below provides guidance on how to support people suffering with mental problems.


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