Coaching for Mental Health: Ethical Dilemma or Ethical Development?

Appendix 1: Definitions and Characteristics of Mental Health

Definition of Mental Health for Nursing Students. Southampton University. May 2002.
“There is no clear singular definition of mental health. In general, a person is mentally healthy when s/he possesses a knowledge of themselves, meets his/her basic needs, assumes responsibility for his/her behaviour and for self growth, has learned to integrate thoughts, feelings and attitudes and can resolve conflicts successfully. In other words mental health and mental illness are relative concepts, defined and described in relation to a persons ability to function, and basically, to have a positive self view”

Disadvantages and Advantages of the breakdown/breakthrough experience.


  • Once diagnosed with mental ill health, the patient is labelled and the information used by both employers and insurance companies.
  • The stigma of association with any mental health condition, diagnosed or not, has long term effects on personal and community confidence.
  • It is a time where people are highly susceptible, suggestible and easily abused.
  • A time that can traumatise and paralyse for life. The long dark night of the soul, prolonged introspection.
  • Major dependency created by reliance on drugs, social services, therapists, state benefits etc
  • Misunderstanding and misinformation creating greater chasms between the ‘normal’ and ‘abnormal’.
  • Escalating costs to public and private purses.


Advantages…Breakthrough – Could it be considered an Alchemical process?

  • A practical, firsthand knowledge of all life’s experiences.
  • A sensitivity to human emotions — pleasure and pain.
  • A time of review, clarity and perception, coming to terms with the past, assessing the present and envisioning a new future.
  • A humanizing experience, increasing social and environmental awareness and appreciation of collective values.
  • An opportunity for a new awareness of personal principles and values.
  • Quick to spot the inauthentic Staying sane. (p.15). (Bullshit detectors at maximum).


Some characteristics of depression and other mood disorders.

Mood swings from elation to despair/shut down. Hyper/hypomania
Black and white thinking. Polarized thinking. Attributional style
Illusion of having no control. learned helplessness pattern.
Suggestibility for negative especially but also open to hypnotherapy/relaxation techniques
Taking everything personally.
Physical lethargy.
‘What’s the point’ attitude.
High dependency
Lack of trust

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