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What is mental health and why is it important

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Humans are emotional beings and throughout our lives we do experience both positive and negative emotions based on different events in our life.

At certain point in time, we all go through difficult times, and it can be a healthy reaction to feel negative emotions when facing challenges.

Having negative emotion in itself is therefore not to be confused as having a mental health issue.

What is mental health and why is it important

In today’s fast pace world mental health is a new buzzword that you may have started hearing too often in recent times.

Recently, with many well to do celebrities and personalities sharing their struggle stories around mental health problems has enabled public acceptance around this health issue.

Mental health problems in past has not received enough of validation from society and is often stigmatized.

Based on different cultures mental health and the problem associated with it are often overlooked and many times considered as signs of weakness.

With more studies conducted each year, health agencies and institutes do classify mental health problem as real issues and often treatable just like any physical health issues.

In this article we plan to cover what is meant by mental health and why is it important to us.

What is Mental health

Before understanding about mental health, let us understand how health is defined.

As per WHO – Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.

Based on above, we can infer that mental health is more than just the absence of mental disorders or disabilities.

Following on the definition of health, let us now understand how we can define mental health.

Mental health is more than the absence of mental disorders.

Mental health is a state of well being in which an individual realizes his or her abilities, can cope up with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.

Therefore, mental health is a matter of overall well being for a person so they can productively contribute to their community and keep a healthy life.

Why is Mental health important

Mental health is an important measure of your overall health.

Mental health is fundamental to our collective and individual ability as humans to think, emote, interact with each other, earn a living and enjoy life.

Mental health is therefore important to help us grow as individuals, community and a nation.

Poor mental health increases the risk for chronic physical conditions like – Stroke, heart disease, Cancer, Type-2 diabetes etc.

Similarly, the presence of long lasting conditions may have determent effect on the mental health condition of an individual.

Research shows that people with mental illness can get better and many recover completely.

Mental health for a person can change overtime and is determined by various factors such as rapid social changes, stressful work conditions, gender discrimination, social exclusion, unhealthy lifestyles, physical illness and human rights violations.

What are mental health problems or mental illness

Mental health just like physical health is very much real, can happen to anyone, shows physical symptoms, impacts your life and is very much treatable.

Good mental health means that you are able to think, feel and react in the ways that you need and want to live your life.

Mental health disorders are medical conditions that often result in reduced ability to cope with the routine daily tasks and activities such as going to work or raising a family.

If you are going through a period of poor mental health then you might find that the ways you are thinking, feeling or reacting is becoming difficult to cope up with.

In such cases you may need external help to provide the necessary support.

Mental health problem may at times be more worse than a physical injury or illness.

When you start experiencing mental health problem you may become confused, frightened , upset and may feel it as a sign of weakness.

Mental health is more than the absence of mental disorders.

Most common mental health problems that you may have heard about are – anxiety and depression.

Types of Mental illness

People can experience one or many different types of mental disorders or illness at the same time.

Mental illness can be long lasting or episodic. It may be triggered by certain events and can have discrete beginning and ends.

It is a myth that people with mental illness are violent. In fact, vast majority of people with mental illness are no more likely to be violent than anyone else.

Some of the main types of mental illness and disorders are as follows –

  • Depression
  • Eating disorder
  • Schizophrenia or other Psychotic disorder
  • ADHD aka Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder
  • Personality Disorder
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder aka PTSD
  • Anxiety disorder
  • Disruptive behavioral disorder

How common is mental illness

Mental health condition can change overtime due to various factors such as stressful work conditions, unhealthy lifestyle etc.

In some cases, factors such as lifestyle changes can be easily bring positive effects to your mental health condition while in some cases this needs to be supplemented with medical treatment.

1 in every 5 American adult and 1 in every 5 American children will experience a mental illness at some point in their lives

Mental health disorders can affect anyone, regardless of their age, culture, ethnicity, gender or income group.

Depression is one of the mental illness which is a leading cause of disability worldwide.

As per CDC 1 in every 5 American will experience a mental illness in a given year. Mental illness is also quite common in children with 1 in every 5 children may be impacted due to it.

Treatment for mental illness

Mental illness is treatable and their are two most common forms of treatment offered to patients dealing with this problem – talking treatment and psychiatric medication.

Talking treatments takes a guided approach from professionals who talk you through about your thoughts and experiences to explore your difficult feelings.

Read more – 5 simple steps to mental health and wellbeing

This helps you to deal with specific problems, cope with upsetting memories or improve your relationship.

Counselling, psychotherapy or simply therapy may be common terms for same general style of talking therapy.

Antidepressants, Antipsychotics, sleeping pills and minor tranquillisers or mood stabilizers are prescribed as psychiatric medication to help ease symptoms.

These however are not meant to cure mental health problems but may help you in the overall recovery process.

Bottom Line

Mental health impacts the well being of our society and nation. As an individual it is equally important to your overall health.

Mental health disorder can impact anyone at any point in their life and the condition is medically treatable.

If you think you or someone you know might be maintaining a poor mental health then you must know that it is as real as any physical health condition and that help is available.

For severe cases, you must reach out to your doctor for consultation who may be able to look more closely on your case and suggest necessary medication or treatment.

Mental illness is treatable and in most cases a person can recover completely from it or show major improvements towards a healthy lifestyle.