What Is Mental Health?
Mental health refers to your emotional, psychological, and social well-being. Good mental health is a fundamental part of your overall health and well-being. Your mental health shapes how you think, feel and act. It can have an impact on how you make decisions in life, how you handle stress, how you communicate, how you relate to other people, and how you relate to yourself.
50% of mental health issues begin by age 14, and 75% of them develop by age 24. One in every 5 adult experience at least one form of a mental health condition every year. One in 17 experience some form of a serious mental health condition, such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.
Mental illness doesn’t just affect one person, but the family, friends, and communities around them. Consequently, one’s good mental health also affects a person’s surrounding. Prevention, treatment, and recovery is possible. Early detection, engagement and support to improve outcomes.
Factors That Influence Your Mental Health
- Biological factors, including genes, brain chemistry, hormonal health, and physical illness
- Life experiences, including trauma and abuse experience
- Family history of mental health issues
Signs of Good Mental Health
- Positively coping with the stresses of life
- Having meaningful connections with family, friends, and community
- A healthy relationship with self, including having a positive self-esteem, experiencing self-confidence, practicing self-care and self-love
- Work productively
- Realize their full potential
- Positive outlook in life, being hopeful
- Experiencing gratitude
- Making meaningful contributions to their communities
- Sleeping well
- Being physically active
Warning signs of Mental Health Issues
There are hundreds of various mental illnesses are listed in the DSM-V. Many people are dealing with more than one mental illness throughout their lives or at the same time. Signs and symptoms differ condition to condition, person to person, and situation to situation. People who experience some signs of a mental health issue may not have a mental illness yet.
Warning signs of mental health issues include:
- Having low or no energy
- Feeling hopelessness and/or helplessness
- Pulling away from people
- Showing less or no interest in usual activities and passions
- Feeling a lack of purpose in life
- Inability to perform usual daily tasks, including school, work, housework, and taking care of family
- Inability or lack of interest to take care of self
- Low self-esteem and/or self-confidence
- Eating too much or too little
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Unexplained aches and pains in the body
- Feeling numb
- Feeling like nothing matters
- Severe or unusual personality changes
- Severe or unusual mood swings
- Severe or unusual highs and lows
- Excessive or more than usual smoking, drinking, and/or drugs
- Yelling, arguing, or fighting with friends and family
- Drastic changes in mood
- Excessive crying
- Feeling angry, worried, upset, scared, or on the edge
- Feeling forgetful and/or confused
- Obsessive and/or repetitive thoughts and/or behaviors
- Feeling paranoid or having unrealistic fears
- Thinking of or engaging in self-harm or harming others
- Having persistent memories or thoughts and/or flashbacks that don’t leave
- Hearing voices
- Believing thoughts that are untrue
- Suicidal thoughts and/or behavior
Most Common Mental Disorders
Depression is a global crisis and is the most common mental disorder in the world affecting 6 out of 10 people in the world. Along with depression, there are many other conditions that affect a large percentage of the population. Each condition listed has various sub-types and may occur alongside of other mental health conditions.
- Bipolar disorder
- Eating disorders
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Attention deficit disorders (ADD and ADHD)
- Borderline personality disorder
Treatment of mental health conditions may include:
- Psychotherapy and counseling: There are various forms, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical-behavioral therapy (DBT), exposure therapy, psychoanalysis, interpersonal therapy, talk therapy, addiction counseling, art therapy, etc. Therapy can happen in various settings, such as individual therapy, group therapy, family therapy, and couples therapy.
- Medication: Medication can help symptoms and can go hand-in-hand with therapy.
- Hospitalization and partial hospitalization: This happens in the minority of cases, usually temporary, where patients are being closely monitored and undergo intensive treatment.
- Complementary and alternative medicine and treatment: There are many options, including craniosacral therapy, acupuncture, nutritional therapy, life coaching, health coaching, somatic experiencing, tapping, and massage.
- Support groups: Group members support each other in working towards a common goal.
- Self-help: Self-help plans include with strategies to achieve good mental health and well-being.
- Self-care: Self-care practices include but not limited to a healthy diet, exercise, meditation, yoga, tai-chi, affirmations, and relaxation techniques.
How to Improve Your Mental Health and Maintain Good Mental Health:
- Getting professional help if needed
- Staying positive and hopefully
- Practicing self-love and self-care
- Eating a healthy, whole foods diet
- Being authentic
- Practicing gratitude
- Practicing forgiveness
- Practicing kindness and compassion towards self and others
- Getting and staying physically active, engaging in 20-30 minutes of exercise each day
- Getting enough sleep, 8 – 10 hours a day
- Connecting with others, creating friendships, and being involved in the community
- Giving back, helping others, and volunteering
- Developing health coping skills
- Lowering stress
- Spending time in nature
- Continuously learning, growing, and developing self
For more information on diagnosis, treatment and healing for mental health problems, see the articles above.