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.

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 and you can alos learn how to care for yourself. People with mental health problems can get better and many with the right care, can 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

If You’ve Been Affected By Mental Health Problems

If you have, or believe you may have, mental health problem, it can be helpful to talk about these issues with others. It can be scary to reach out for help, but it is often the first step to helping you heal, grow, and recover.

Having a good support system and engaging with trustworthy people are key elements to successfully talking about your own mental health.

Build Your Support System

Find someone—such as a parent, family member, teacher, faith leader, health care provider or other trusted individual, who:

Gives good advice when you want and ask for it;

assists you in taking action that will helpLikes, respects, and trusts you and who you like, respect, and trust, too

Allows you the space to change, grow, make decisions, and even make mistakesListens to you and shares with you, both the good and bad times

Respects your need for confidentiality so you can tell him or her anythingLets you freely express your feelings and emotions without judging, teasing, or criticizing

Works with you to figure out what to do the next time a difficult situation comes up

Has your best interest in mind

It’s also important for you to be educated, informed, and engaged about your own mental health.

Find out as much as you can about the specific mental disorder that you have been diagnosed with.

Get involved in your treatment through shared decision making. Participate fully with your mental health provider and make informed treatment decisions together. Participating fully in shared decision making includes:

Recognizing a decision needs to be madeIdentifying partners in the process as equalsStating options as equal

Exploring understanding and expectations

Identifying preferencesNegotiating options/concordance

Sharing decisions

Arranging follow-up to evaluate decision-making outcomes

Recovery is a process of change where individuals improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life, and strive to reach their full potential. Studies show that most people with mental health problems get better, and many recover completely.

For more information on mental health awareness, please visit our blog .

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