Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act, and helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices.
Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood. Over the course of your life, if you experience mental health problems, your thinking, mood, and behavior could be affected.
Concepts in mental health
Mental health is a state of mental well-being that enables people to cope with the stresses of life, realize their abilities, learn well and work well, and contribute to their community. It is an integral component of health and well-being that underpins our individual and collective abilities to make decisions, build relationships and shape the world we live in. Mental health is a basic human right. And it is crucial to personal, community and socio-economic development.
Mental health is more than the absence of mental disorders. It exists on a complex continuum, which is experienced differently from one person to the next, with varying degrees of difficulty and distress and potentially very different social and clinical outcomes.
Mental health conditions include mental disorders and psychosocial disabilities as well as other mental states associated with significant distress, impairment in functioning, or risk of self-harm. People with mental health conditions are more likely to experience lower levels of mental well-being, but this is not always or necessarily the case.
Mental Health Conditions
Mental illnesses are disorders, ranging from mild to severe, that affect a person’s thinking, mood, and/or behavior. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, nearly one-in-five adults live with a mental illness.
Many factors contribute to mental health conditions, including:
- Biological factors, such as genes or brain chemistry
- Life experiences, such as trauma or abuse
- Family history of mental health problems
Some mental health topics include:
· Anxiety disorders (including generalized anxiety, panic disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), phobias, and social anxiety)
· Eating disorders (including Anorexia Nervosa, binge eating Disorder, and Bulimia Nervosa)
A Serious Mental Illness (SMI) is a mental illness that interferes with a person’s life and ability to function. Despite common misperceptions, having an SMI is not a choice, a weakness, or a character flaw. It is not something that just “passes” or can be “snapped out of” with willpower.
Early warning signs & symptoms
Not sure if you or someone you know is living with mental health problems? Experiencing one or more of the following feelings or behaviors can be an early warning sign of a problem:
- Eating or sleeping too much or too little
- Pulling away from people and usual activities
- Having low or no energy
- Feeling numb or like nothing matters
- Having unexplained aches and pains
- Feeling helpless or hopeless
- Smoking, drinking, or using drugs more than usual
- Feeling unusually confused, forgetful, on edge, angry, upset, worried, or scared
- Yelling or fighting with family and friends
- Experiencing severe mood swings that cause problems in relationships
- Having persistent thoughts and memories you can’t get out of your head
- Hearing voices or believing things that are not true
- Thinking of harming yourself or others
- Inability to perform daily tasks like taking care of your kids or getting to work or school
Do you think someone you know may have a mental health problem? Talking about mental health can be difficult. Learn about common mental health myths and facts and read about ways to help you get the conversation started.