Mental health awareness is a fundamental aspect of Buddhism. The Buddhist approach to mental health is centred on achieving a state of well-being, where individuals can reach their full potential, handle life’s stresses, and make meaningful contributions to their communities.
The Buddha taught his monks that they should not follow the extremes of sensual indulgence or self-mortification. Instead, they should follow the Middle Way, which is the Noble Eightfold Path. The Noble Eightfold Path consists of eight principles that the monks must follow, including Right Understanding, Right Thought, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, and Right Concentration. By following these principles, the monks can cultivate mental health and well-being.
The Buddha also preached the Four Noble Truths, which are essential to understanding suffering and finding a way to end it. The first truth is Dukkha or suffering, which refers to the reality of affliction and impermanence, including birth, old age, disease, and death. The second truth is Samudaya, which is the cause of suffering. This involves attachment to sensory experiences, becoming self-formed, or destruction. The third truth is Nirodha, which is the cessation of suffering, and the fourth truth is Magga, which refers to the paths leading to the cessation of suffering.
To develop mental health, there are four foundations of mindfulness that individuals can practice. These foundations are mindful contemplation of natural phenomena, which is applied to four objects: the body (kaya), feelings (vedana), states of consciousness (citta), and mental objects (dhamma). Additionally, there are four types of bhavana, or development, which include physical development (kaya-bhavana), moral development (sala-bhavana), emotional development (citta-bhavana), and wisdom development (paan-bhavana).
By following the Noble Eightfold Path, understanding the Four Noble Truths, and practising the four foundations of mindfulness and types of development, individuals can achieve mental health and well-being.