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. People with mental health problems can get better and many recover completely.
Signs of mental-illness
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
Make meaningful contributions to their communities
Ways to maintain positive mental health include:
Getting professional help if you need it
Connecting with others
Getting physically active
Getting enough sleep
Developing coping skills
Learn More About Mental Health
- The importance of prevention and wellness
- What communities can do to promote wellness (PDF – 500 KB)
- The importance of mental health and wellness for individuals with mental health problems
Statistics about Mental Health
- 1 in 4 British adults experience at least one diagnosable mental health problem in any one year, and 1 in 6 experiences this at any given time.
(The Office for National Statistics Psychiatric Morbidity report, 2001)
- Although mental disorders are widespread, serious cases are concentrated among a relatively small proportion of people who experience more than one mental health problem. (The British Journal of Psychiatry, 2005)
- It is estimated that approximately 450 million people worldwide have a mental health problem. (World Health Organisation, 2001)
- According to the National Institute of Mental Health, more than a quarter of American adults experience depression, anxiety or another mental disorder in any given year.
- Others need help coping with a serious illness, losing weight or stopping smoking. Still others struggle to cope with relationship troubles, job loss, the death of a loved one, stress, substance abuse or other issues. And these problems can often become debilitating.
Want to know more? Fundamental Facts is a handbook providing a comprehensive summary of mental health research with of key facts and figures, covering all key areas of mental health. Published by the Mental Health Foundation.
Good mental health
- Staying healthy
- The Mental Health Foundation has a good resource on how to maintain good mental health.
Treatment of mental illness
Mental health issues
- Bipolar disorder
- Body dysmorphic disorder
- Borderline personality disorder
- Dissociative disorder
- Eating disorders
- Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Panic attacks
- Personality disorders
- Schizoaffective disorder
- Suicidal feelings