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What is mental health? | Mental Health And Your Well-Being

Updated: May 18, 2022

Mental health is a state of well-being that includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel and act. It determines how we cope with the normal stresses of life, we work productively, relate to others, and make choices.

Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood. Our mental health affects our thinking, mood, behavior, and relationships and also impacts our physical health.

Why is Mental Health Important?

Mental health can affect our everyday daily lives, our personal and professional relationships, and even our physical health. It is therefore important to take care of our mental health to prevent stress, anxiety, a strain on our relationships, and other psychological and physical health problems.

Remember, this link also works in the other direction. This means factors in our lives, interpersonal relations, work or financial stress, and physical factors can also contribute to mental health disruptions.

As mental health impacts every aspect of our lives, its growing awareness makes it more important now than ever before; the importance of good mental health ripples into everything we do, think or say.

Reasons to Care for Your Mental Health

Taking care of your mental health benefits your overall well-being. Positive mental health is vital for constructive behaviors, emotions, and thoughts. Focusing on mental health care can increase productivity, enhance our self-image, and improve relationships.

Maintaining mental health not only improves daily functioning but also helps to reduce stress and anxiety and deal with some physical health problems that are directly linked to mental health conditions. For example, heart disease and stress are related, so managing stress can have a positive effect on combating heart disease.

Mental Health Care:

  • Improves mood

  • Reduces stress, anxiety, and depression

  • Controls anger and other reactive emotions

  • Helps to think clearly

  • Improves relationships

  • Increases self-esteem and self-confidence

  • Combats symptoms of certain physical health problems

  • Creates an enhanced sense of inner peace

What Causes Mental Health Problems?

Risk Factors

All of us are at some risk of developing a mental health disorder, no matter our age, gender, income, or ethnicity.

Social and financial circumstances, biological factors, and lifestyle choices have a strong impact on a person’s mental health. Due to the close connection between causes of mental health problems, it is also common for a person to have comorbidities and develop more than one mental condition at a time.

Key factors that contribute to mental health problems can be:

  • Biological aspects, such as genes or brain chemistry can increase the risk of a mental illness.

  • Life experiences- Traumic incidents like abuse, neglect, breakup or divorce, death of a loved one, unemployment, financial loss, significant debt, dysfunctional family life, loneliness, social isolation, discrimination or social disadvantages, or any other long-term stress can lead to many different mental health disorders.

  • Family history of mental health problems - Research shows that a genetic family history of mental health conditions, such as certain genes and gene variants can increase the likelihood of developing a mental disorder.

man wear black jacket sitting alone

Early Warning Signs

It is not always easy to know if someone is suffering from a mental health illness. While you may not be able to diagnose the disorder, you should look out for certain behaviors and feelings that are early warning signs of a problem. These include:

  • Overeating or not eating enough

  • Sleeping too much or too little

  • Becoming anti-social, isolated, and pulling away from people

  • Having low or no energy

  • Avoiding exercise and other activities

  • Inability to perform daily tasks like taking care of one’s kids or getting to work or school

  • Having unexplained aches and pains

  • Feeling helpless or hopeless, or having no feelings at all

  • Feeling unusually confused, forgetful, on edge, angry, upset, worried, or scared

  • Yelling or fighting with family and friends

  • Experiencing severe mood swings

  • Smoking, drinking or using drugs, more than usual

  • 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 oneself or others

If you or someone you know is experiencing one or more of the above conditions, it is best to seek professional help.

Remember: While you should take self-help steps to improve your mental health, you should not self-diagnose or self-medicate yourself.

How to Maintain Your Mental Health?

To ensure healthy well-being, it is crucial to maintain your mental health.

Ways to maintain positive mental health include:

  • Meditation

  • Being optimistic

  • Connecting with others

  • Staying physically active

  • Helping others

  • Getting enough quality sleep

  • Developing coping skills

  • Getting professional help, if needed

Mental Health Treatments

While it is important to preserve your mental health, it is equally important to know what you’re doing is no longer working and helping you take care of your mental peace. It is important to be able to identify risk factors and early warning signs and get the necessary help needed to treat yourself and improve your mental health.

group meditation in open environment

Mental health treatment can look like this:

1. Medication - While medication does not outright cure mental illness, it helps to manage symptoms, and control outbursts, and can also make other treatments, such as psychotherapy, more effective.

2. Psychotherapy - Psychotherapy is a talking treatment by a trained mental health professional, that explores thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, and aims to improve well-being. Examples of such therapy include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Exposure Therapy, Dialectical Behavior Therapy, etc.

3. Counseling - Counseling is a kind of psychotherapy, where you talk with a therapist to understand and gain insight regarding your triggers and condition, so you can learn coping skills.

4. Support Groups - A support group is a group meeting, where peers, who have suffered from similar experiences, guide each other towards the shared goal of recovery.

5. Self-Help - Some self-help ways to positively affect your mental stability and health include:

  • Journaling

  • Practicing gratitude

  • Mindfulness meditation

  • Exercise or yoga

  • Joining a support group or simply learning open and effective communication with loved ones

Why Should We Spread Mental Health Awareness?

As you have read above, mental health has a deep impact on our lives. It is, therefore, important to work together to de-stigmatize how we think about, approach, and identify mental health issues in our society.

It is important to have tough conversations and admit when there is a problem so that we get help or find a solution. When we remove the fear and shame, often associated with mental health, we can increase the likelihood of someone reaching out for help.

Positive mental health can improve productivity, increase memory and focus, enhance relationships, help realize one’s full potential, control negative emotional outbursts, reduce stress and cope with difficult circumstances, prevent physical illnesses, and make meaningful contributions to the community.

Asking for help is a sign of strength. And by spreading mental health awareness, you encourage yourself, your loved one, or anyone else to ask for help and build a healthy and happy life.

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