No one has perfect mental health all the time, but ongoing problems can be dangerous to our well-being.

What’s mental health?

Mental health includes 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 you?

Your mental health can affect many areas of your life:

  • Work, school, or home life
  • Relationships with others
  • Sleep
  • Appetite
  • 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 isn’t the same thing as the absence of 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.

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.

What’s a mental illness?

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’re 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 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.