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What Is Mental Health?

Mental health refers to cognitive, behavioral, and emotional well-being. It is all about how people think, feel, and behave. People sometimes use the term “mental health” to mean the absence of a mental disorder.

Mental health can affect daily living, relationships, and physical health.

However, this link also works in the other direction. Factors in people’s lives, interpersonal connections, and physical factors can all contribute to mental health disruptions.

Looking after mental health can preserve a person’s ability to enjoy life. Doing this involves reaching a balance between life activities, responsibilities, and efforts to achieve psychological resilience.

Conditions such as stress, depression, and anxiety can all affect mental health and disrupt a person’s routine.

Although the term mental health is in common use, many conditions that doctors recognize as psychological disorders have physical roots.

In this article, we explain what people mean by mental health and mental illness. We also describe the most common types of mental disorders, including their early signs and how to treat them.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO):

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

The WHO stress that mental health is “more than just the absence of mental disorders or disabilities.” Peak mental health is about not only avoiding active conditions but also looking after ongoing wellness and happiness.

They also emphasize that preserving and restoring mental health is crucial on an individual basis, as well as throughout different communities and societies the world over.

In the United States, the National Alliance on Mental Illness estimates that almost 1 in 5 adults experience mental health problems each year.

In 2017, an estimated 11.2 million adults in the U.S., or about 4.5% of adults, had a severe psychological condition, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).

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 problems are common but help is available. People with mental health problems can get better and many recover completely.

Early Warning Signs

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

Mental Health and Wellness

Positive mental health allows people to:

·     Realize their full potential

·     Cope with the stresses of life

·     Work productively

·     Make meaningful contributions to their communities

Ways to maintain positive mental health include:

·     Getting professional help if you need it

·     Connecting with others

·     Staying positive

·     Getting physically active

·     Helping others

·     Getting enough sleep

·     Developing coping skills

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