Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also 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. It is a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.
The positive dimension of mental health is stressed in WHO’s definition of health as contained in its constitution: “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”
Over the course of your life, if you experience mental health problems, your thinking, mood, and behavior could be affected. Many factors contribute to mental health problems, including:
- Biological factors, such as genes or brain chemistry
- Life experiences, such as trauma or abuse
- Family history of mental health problems.
Mental health and mental illness
According to the U.K. surgeon general (1999), mental health is the successful performance of mental function, resulting in productive activities, fulfilling relationships with other people, and providing the ability to adapt to change and cope with adversity. The term mental illness refers collectively to all diagnosed mental disorders—health conditions characterized by alterations in thinking, mood, or behavior associated with distress or impaired functioning.
A person struggling with their mental health may experience this because of stress, loneliness, depression, anxiety, relationship problems, death of a loved one, suicidal thoughts, grief, addiction, ADHD, various mood disorders, or other mental illnesses of varying degrees, as well as learning disabilities.Therapists, psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, nurse practitioners or physicians can help manage mental illness with treatments such as therapy, counseling, or medication.
What You Need to Know About Mental Illness
Many people with a mental health disorder don’t get treatment. They may think it won’t help. Or, they don’t recognize the symptoms. Others may not be able to afford treatment. The social stigma of mental illness also stops people from seeking help. This often means worsening symptoms and, in some cases, suicide.
Mental illnesses are as real as diseases like heart disease or cancer. But understanding that mental illness isn’t a weakness or a character flaw helps people get help.
Some of the more common mental health problems include:
Anxiety and panic disorders
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
Mental health problems may be passed down through the family. Or they can arise from abnormal brain chemistry, substance abuse, or in response to traumatic events or an abusive environment. In other words, a mental illness isn’t the fault of the person who’s suffering.
Understanding Mental Disorders
Experts define a mental disorder as a significant dysfunction in a person’s thinking, emotional control, and behavior. The condition often disrupts a person’s ability to relate to others and to deal with the demands of life.
Mental-health disorders are not the result of personal weakness or a character flaw.
The severity of symptoms can vary in length and intensity, depending on the individual and the particular ailment and circumstances. It can affect people of any gender, age, culture, race, religion, or educational and income level. Mental-health disorders are not the result of personal weakness or a character flaw. Through appropriate medical care, individuals can be treated and can live a productive and fulfilling life.
Symptoms of Mental disorders
Some symptoms of mental illness which can help you recognize when you or a loved one need help. Symptoms include:
Feeling sad, burned out, or useless. Everyone feels down from time to time. But, if that emotion continues for more than 2 weeks and you also have feelings of guilt and hopelessness, it could mean you’re depressed. Severe and persistent symptoms are what distinguish depression from normal sadness and mood changes. Other symptoms of depression are sleep problems, loss of self-esteem, and not enjoying things you once did.
Ongoing worries and fears. People who suffer with unrealistic or extreme anxiety and worry about life circumstances could have an anxiety disorder.
Sudden, intense angst, fear, or panic. Heart palpitations, chest pain, feeling smothered, dizziness, trembling, and faintness can be signs of panic disorder.
Unexplained physical symptoms. Ongoing physical symptoms, such as headaches, stomachaches, and chronic pain (especially backaches) with no clear cause, can signal emotional upset or stress overload.
Chronic fatigue and lack of energy. When your body can’t handle emotional overload, it can shut down. Feeling too tired to do the things you used to love can be a sign of emotional distress or depression.
Avoiding other people. Spending all your time alone instead of with friends or family could be a sign of stress overload or a social phobia.
Other symptoms of mental health problems include:
Dramatic changes in sleep or weight
Substance abuse, including alcohol
People who have emotional disorders don’t have to suffer without help. It’s possible to mend the mind through therapies and support services. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. It’s a sign of strength, not weakness.
Tips for a good mental health
There are a lot of ways in which you can actually restore your good mood and a healthy mental life. This journey needs a lot of efforts and you need to keep trying till it gets over. There are some tips as well for building up a good mental health. They are:
1. Talk about your feelings when you feel depressed
Talking about your feelings can help you stay in good mental health and deal with times when you feel troubled. Discussing about your feelings isn’t a sign of weakness. It’s part of taking charge of your wellbeing and doing what you can to stay healthy. It can be a way to cope with a problem you’ve been carrying around in your head for a while. Just being listened to can help you feel supported and less alone. And it works both ways. If you open up, it might encourage others to do the same.
It’s not always easy to describe how you’re feeling. If you can’t think of one word, use lots. What does it feel like inside your head? What does it make you feel like doing?
2. Build good relationships with people around, when struggling through mental illness
Having good relationships with other people is the most important factor contributing to a sense of well being. This can include family, friends, workmates and others in the community. Investing time and energy in your relationships can lead to great benefits for all involved. They can always support you, understand you. They can advise you on how to deal with your problems and might suggest you concrete ways to get out of it.
That also makes me warn you about something very important too. You should always stay away from toxic relationships if you don’t want to strain about it. The more you should stay connected to good vibes, the more you need to cut off all negativity around you. You don’t need to sit your loved ones down for a big conversation about your well being. Many people feel more comfortable when these conversations develop naturally – maybe when you’re doing something together.If it feels awkward at first, give it time. Make talking about your feelings something that you do.
3. Always keep yourself active to restore good mental health
Experts believe exercise releases chemicals in your brain that make you feel good. Regular exercise can boost your self-esteem and help you concentrate, sleep, look and feel better. Exercising doesn’t just mean doing sport or going to the gym. Walks in the park, gardening or housework can also keep you active. Experts say most people should do about 30 minutes’ exercise at least five days a week. Try to make physical activity that you enjoy a part of your day. Try to keep yourself socially active too, which doesn’t mean forcing yourself to attend any parties or gossiping with your relatives,be friendly with good acquaintances and hang out frequently. This keeps you busy and refreshes your mind.
4. Identify and use your strength for good mental health
We all have different strengths and weaknesses but finding out what you are really good at and using those talents can increase well being. A strengths questionnaire is available at Authentic Happiness. Using your strengths to help others or contribute to the community creates a sense of meaning and purpose. Indulge yourself in positivity and good health for mental well being.
5. Try meditation for good mental health
Meditation is no longer some New Age fad that’s too intimidating to try. The practice has a host of health benefits, from better concentration to improved mental well-being. There are multiple methods of meditation that offer varying degrees of investment. That being said, the practice doesn’t have to be complicated: Try just setting aside five minutes for meditation when you wake up or before you go to bed. You’ll likely either start or end your day on a positive note.
6. Eating well helps in building good mental health
There are strong links between what we eat and how we feel, for example, caffeine and sugar can have an immediate effect. But food can also have a long-lasting effect on your mental health. Your brain needs a mix of nutrients to stay healthy and function well, just like the other organs in your body. A diet that’s good for your physical health is also good for your mental health. A healthy balanced diet includes:
- lots of different types of fruit and vegetables
- wholegrain cereals or bread
- nuts and seeds
- dairy products
- oily fish
- plenty of water.
- Eat at least three meals each day and drink plenty of water. Try to limit how many high-caffeine or sugary drinks you have, and avoid too much alcohol.
7. Involve yourself in spirituality to improve mental health
For some people, being involved in spiritual or religious practices can improve well being, help in coping with stress and reduce symptoms of mental illness. This can include belonging to a faith community, meditation, prayer, mindfulness or practices such as yoga and Tai Chi.
8. Writing a journal helps you battle mental illness
Putting pen to paper can be a liberating and cathartic experience. Try keeping a journal or even just writing your anxieties and tossing them in the trash. A 2012 study found that writing what’s stressing you out and then physically throwing it away may help clear your mind. Experts also suggest writing when your worries are keeping you up at night.
9. Seeking help too improves a good mental stability
Speaking of therapy — do it. Seriously. Just like you’d see a doctor for a physical illness, the same standard should apply to mental illness. There are multiple methods, from talk therapy to behavioral therapy, and a mental health professional can help you figure out the avenue that works best for you.
“Talking about your issues and problems out loud can be very helpful. It gives some perspective,” Gregory Dalack, chair of the department of psychiatry at the University of Michigan, previously told HuffPost. “Talking with somebody who is trained to understand anxiety and depression can be even more helpful to help manage those symptoms, reframe some of the negative thoughts we tend to have and move us to a place [mentally] where we can cope with those difficulties.”
10. Take break from everything for a while to restore your mental balance
A change of scene or a change of pace is good for your mental health. It could be a five-minute pause from cleaning your kitchen, a half-hour lunch break at work or a weekend exploring somewhere new. A few minutes can be enough to de-stress you. Give yourself some ‘me time’. Taking a break may mean being very active. It may mean not doing very much at all. Take a deep breath… and relax. Try yoga or meditation, or just putting your feet up. Listen to your body. If you’re really tired, give yourself time to sleep. Without good sleep, our mental health suffers and our concentration goes downhill. Sometimes the world can wait.
About mental health and about the world around you, that is. Mental health conditions are much easier to manage when you know what’s really happening inside the mind. For example, did you know that some disorders may be genetic? Did you know that many conditions have physical symptoms? Learn as much as you can about what you’re dealing with or what your loved ones are experiencing.
“It’s important to get educated and empowered,” Mary Giliberti, executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, previously told HuffPost. “Learn about the conditions and seek out assistance from a professional and other people.”
Additionally, keep an insatiable appetite for knowledge in general. Read a book, go to a museum or pick up a new language. Research shows continuing to learn beyond the boundaries of school can help keep your mind sharp.