No one has perfect mental health all the time, but ongoing problems can be dangerous to our well-being.
- Disappointed in life?
- Feeling worn out?
- Feeling stressed out?
- Not having any fun?
If you answered YES, you’re not alone. In this blog post, we’ll learn everything you need to know about mental health and well-being. Don’t forget to take the mental health test provided at the end.
What is mental health?
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.
How does it affect me?
Your mental health can affect many areas of your life:
- Work, school, or home life
- Relationships with others
- Energy levels
- Ability to think clearly or make decisions
- Physical health
- Life satisfaction
Mental health is just as important to our lives as our physical health
Mental health is not the same thing as the absence of a mental illness. It includes:
- How you feel about yourself, the world and your life
- Your ability to solve problems and overcome challenges
- Your ability to build relationships with others and contribute to your communities
- Your ability to achieve your goals
Many people take care of their physical health before they feel ill. They may eat well, exercise and try to get enough sleep to help maintain wellness. You can take the same approach to mental health. Just as you may work to keep your body healthy, you can also work to keep your mind healthy.
Dimensions of mental health and well-being
The way you think about something has a big impact on your mental health. Changes in your thoughts often go along with changes in your mental health.
Examples of positive thoughts:
- I know I can get through these rough times
- I feel excited about life!
- I know my friends really care about me
- I feel good about the way my life is going these days
- I have some really cool talents and interests
- I want to do something that makes a positive difference
- I am a good person even though I have some flaws
- Good things are going to happen to me
Examples of negative thoughts:
- It feels like something really bad is going to happen
- Nothing good ever seems to happen to me
- I am never going to get through this
- My flaws are too big to overcome
- I feel like I’m losing my mind
- I am ugly and stupid
- They think I’m a loser
- Life sucks!
Behaviors are the helpful or harmful things you do. Other people can usually see your behaviors. Changes in behavior often go along with changes in mental health.
Examples of behaviors:
- Avoiding the things that upset you
- Engaging in hobbies or leisure activities
- Isolating yourself and pulling away from friends and family
- Doing things that distract you from your problems, like watching TV or working late
- Working on a solution to a problem one step at a time
- Crying often
- Overeating, not eating enough or purging food
- Lashing out at other people either verbally or physically
- Excessive dependency or clinging to loved ones
- Reaching out to a friend or family member for support and understanding
- Practicing your spiritual activities
- Using alcohol or drugs to make the bad feelings go away
- Doing something relaxing, like taking a bath or practicing yoga
Body reactions are changes in your body functions such as heart rate, breathing, digestion, brain chemicals, hormones and more. Changes in your body reactions often go along with changes in your mental health.
Examples of body reactions:
- Chest pain, shortness of breath
- Muscle tension, muscle aches or headaches
- Low sex drive
- Aggravation of an existing health problem
- Upset stomach or nausea
- Lack of appetite or increased appetite
- Pounding, racing or abnormal heartbeat
- Feeling that you’re separated from things around you
- Sweating, hot flushes or cold chills
- Feeling dizzy
- Upset stomach
Emotions are the way you feel. They can be pleasant or unpleasant. Changes in emotions often go along with changes in mental health.
Examples of pleasant emotions:
- Happiness or joy
- Sense of calm
- Feeling love or affection
- Feeling cheerful
Examples of unpleasant emotions:
- Irritability or anger
- Anxiety or fear
- Sadness or feeling down
- Feeling empty or numb
Why should mental health matter to you?
When your mental health suffers, it can become hard to enjoy life. You may start to feel down, both mentally and physically. Many of these changes can make it harder to enjoy a balanced and rewarding life. Everyone can benefit from learning how to enhance and protect their mental health—whether or not they’ve experienced mental illness or a substance use problem.
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
What is mental illness?
A mental illness is a disease that causes mild to severe disturbances in thought and/or behavior, resulting in an inability to cope with life’s ordinary demands and routines.
There are more than 200 classified forms of mental illness. Some of the more common disorders are depression, bipolar disorder, dementia, schizophrenia and anxiety disorders. Symptoms may include changes in mood, personality, personal habits and/or social withdrawal.
Mental health problems may be related to excessive stress due to a particular situation or series of events. As with cancer, diabetes and heart disease, mental illnesses are often physical as well as emotional and psychological. Mental illnesses may be caused by a reaction to environmental stresses, genetic factors, biochemical imbalances, or a combination of these. With proper care and treatment, many individuals learn to cope with or recover from a mental illness or emotional disorder.
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
Types of mental health problems
- Anxiety and panic attacks
- Bipolar disorder
- Disassociate disorder
- Eating problems
- Hearing voices
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
- Personality disorder
- Sleep disorder
- Suicidal feeling
Mental Health Treatments
Many people diagnosed with mental illness achieve strength and recovery through participating in individual or group treatment. There are many different treatment options available. There is no treatment that works for everyone—individuals can choose the treatment, or combination of treatments, that works best.
- Psychotherapy: It’s the therapeutic treatment of mental illness provided by a trained mental health professional. It explores thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, and seeks to improve an individual’s well-being. Psychotherapy paired with medication is the most effective way to promote recovery.
- Medication: It doesn’t outright cure mental illness. However, it may help with the management of symptoms. Medication paired with psychotherapy is the most effective way to promote recovery.
- Hospitalization: In a minority of cases, hospitalization may be necessary so that an individual can be closely monitored, accurately diagnosed or have medications adjusted when his or her mental illness temporarily worsens.
- Support group: A support group is a group meeting where members guide each other toward the shared goal of recovery. Support groups are often comprised of nonprofessionals, but peers that have suffered from similar experiences.
- Complementary and alternative medicine: It refers to treatment and practices that are not typically associated with standard care. It may be used in place of or addition to standard health practices.
- Self-help plan: It’s is a unique health plan where an individual addresses his or her condition by implementing strategies that promote wellness. it may involve addressing wellness, recovery, triggers or warning signs.
- Peer Support: It refers to receiving help from individuals who have suffered from similar experiences.
Mental health test
A mental health quiz is a good tool to understand your mental health and emotional wellness. There’s a couple of good online tests that you can take. Mental Health Meter and Wellness Quiz do a pretty good job.