Mental health is a key factor in how people live, work, learn and socialise. It determines how people handle stress, make decisions, and engage in relationships. It is influenced by factors such as biology, society, and access to and use of mental health services.
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines mental health as “a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to contribute to her or his community.” In addition, mental health encompasses emotional, psychological and social aspects of wellbeing.
WHO’s Mental Health Program is committed to promoting, protecting and restoring mental health through a range of affordable, effective and feasible strategies that are integrated across different sectors and scales of action. These include prevention and early intervention, rehabilitation, public health and advocacy, and the integration of mental health into national systems of healthcare, education and social services.
It is important to recognize that mental health has a biological and social basis and that there are no simple solutions. For instance, many types of mental illness have no known cause.
Most people who have mental illness recover with medical and psychosocial treatments and supports. However, without treatment, mental illnesses can result in serious long-term consequences for individuals and society. These consequences include poor health, disability, substance abuse, homelessness and inappropriate incarceration, among others.
If you are concerned that you or someone you know may be struggling with a mental health issue, visit your doctor today. Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and conduct an assessment to help find the right diagnosis and treatment.
Your doctor may refer you to a psychiatrist, psychologist or other specialised service. If you have a particular problem, they may also recommend medication or other behavioural therapies.
The most common mental illnesses are anxiety disorders, mood disorders, eating disorders and psychotic disorders.
In the United States, it is estimated that about one in five adults suffers from a mental health disorder. Those who have serious mental illnesses are more likely to have chronic physical illnesses, including heart disease and diabetes, and they have a higher risk of death from suicide and other causes.
Symptoms can vary from person to person. They can include feeling numb, depressed, or suicidal. You may also have difficulty sleeping or concentrating. You might have a hard time making decisions or forming relationships with others.
Other symptoms can be hearing knocking or scratching noises, hearing people call your name, or feeling like you’re losing control of your thoughts and emotions. These can be signs of schizophrenia, a disorder that affects people over age 20 and affects women more than men.
Psychiatry is the medical specialty devoted to the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders. Psychiatrists diagnose and treat patients using an evidence-based approach. They use different techniques, such as talk therapy, medications, and support groups to meet the needs of each patient. Currently, the best treatments for mental illnesses are highly effective and can reduce symptoms and improve quality of life in over 70% of patients.