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  • Writer's pictureMonique Johnson

What is Mental Health?

Updated: Mar 9, 2021

Maintaining your mental health is a requirement to living a healthy and balanced life. To live your life more fully, then you must attend to your mental wellness. Unfortunately, there is so much stigma and negativity surrounding mental health that people tend to shy away from the topic. Most people either don’t think that they experience mental health, do not think that it is important, or just simply don’t pay attention to it. According to NAMI, 1 in 5 U.S. adults experience mental illness each year. That number is too high to ignore this integral part of our lives. So, let’s talk about what it is and why it is important for us to focus on our mental health.


Mental health, let's talk about it!


Mental health is our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), mental health is a state of well-being when a person realizes their own abilities, can cope with the normal stressors of life, can work productively, and is able to make a contribution to their community. Everyone has mental health, but not everyone will be diagnosed with a mental health illness. There are a variety of mental health illnesses like anxiety disorders, depressive disorders, ADHD, personality disorders, PTSD, etc. You can experience symptoms of these illnesses and still not meet the full criteria to be diagnosed with a mental health illness. We all experience challenges and struggles with our mental health, therefore, it is important to pay attention to it. According to NAMI, 1 in 25 U.S. adults experience a SERIOUS mental health illness. If you are diagnosed with a mental health illness, then YOU ARE NOT ALONE.


There are specific factors that contribute to mental health concerns and diagnosis. We call it the Biopsychosocial model. This includes biological factors (genetics, family history of mental health, brain chemistry, etc.), psychological factors (attitudes/beliefs, self-esteem, coping skills, perceptions, temperament, social skills, etc.), and social/environmental factors (peer group, work, school, socio-economic status, culture, family circumstances, etc.). All of these factors impact our mental health and state of wellbeing.


Why is mental health important?


Mental health impacts the way that we think, feel, act, respond, and move throughout our everyday life. Our mental health contributes to our decision-making process, how we cope with stress, and how we relate to others.


One of my favorite lines that I like to share is that our mental health is just as important as our physical health. The brain is a vital component of the body. It is an organ and needs to be taken care of just like all of the other organs in our body. We go to the doctor when we are in pain or when our physical health is at risk. So, we should also take time out to care for our mental health when we are stressed or overwhelmed with life. It is also great to see a therapist to maintain our mental health. Mental health is important for everyone throughout the life span. From children to older adults, we all should pay more attention to our mental health. If your mental health is not maintained, then you won’t be able to fully perform in other areas of your life like work, relationships, school, activities, and more.


What are the warning signs?


Pay attention to yourself and know your family history. Be aware of the warning signs and know what to look out for within yourself as well as others.


- Warning signs:

  • Isolation

  • Eating or sleeping too much or too little

  • Pulling away from others or typical activities

  • Displaying low or no energy

  • Feeling numb or like nothing matters

  • Unexplained headaches or pains

  • Feeling helpless or hopeless

  • Overusing/Abusing alcohol and drugs

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

  • Consistently yelling or fighting with family or friends

  • Severe mood swings

  • Thinking of harming yourself or others

  • Inability to perform daily tasks like caring for hygiene, going to work or school, eating, etc.


If you are experiencing these warning signs, then your mental health is at risk and I encourage you to find ways to manage and cope with your experiences. It is important to educate yourself on mental health and to be mindful of your daily experiences. Seeking therapy is a great way to get support on how to improve your mental health. Every human being can benefit from therapy!


"You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them." -Maya Angelou



Sources:


Mental Health By the Numbers. (n.d.). Retrieved December 30, 2020, from https://www.nami.org/mhstats


WHO urges more investments, services for mental health. (2012, May 11). Retrieved December 30, 2020, from https://www.who.int/mental_health/who_urges_investment/en/


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