Mental health is a state of well-being that involves the mind, emotions and behaviour. It influences cognition and perception and determines how we handle stress, interact with others and make decisions.
It’s essential for everyone to maintain good mental health. A lack of good mental health can lead to a range of problems including depression, anxiety, low self-esteem and poor relationships. It also increases the risk of physical illness and disability, making mental health a public health issue that needs to be addressed as much as other areas of health.
The main focus of mental health treatment is to help people manage symptoms and cope with problems, which can include psychotherapy (talk therapy), medication or other treatments. These may be based on an individualized plan developed collaboratively with a therapist and the patient. The treatment is based on the individual’s needs, goals and preferences.
When someone is suffering from a mental health problem, the first thing they should do is seek medical care. A doctor or nurse will conduct an assessment and may ask about your thoughts, mood and behaviours. This can help to decide whether you have a mental illness. If a mental illness is suspected, the doctor will refer you to a specialist for further assessment and treatment.
Most people with mental health problems recover and live normal lives. Some may need to be admitted to hospital for more intensive treatment, such as antidepressants and antipsychotic medications.
Some people who are diagnosed with mental health problems find they have difficulty managing their everyday activities and may need to take time off work or school. They may feel lonely or depressed and have trouble sleeping or concentrating. They may also experience thoughts of suicide or feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness.
Many mental health conditions can be triggered by a number of things, such as drug and alcohol abuse, or some medical conditions or hormone changes. Early life stress and trauma, social isolation and family or relationship breakdown can also increase the likelihood of mental disorders.
As people live longer, mental illnesses are on the rise and they are becoming more common among adolescents and young adults. Sadly, these mental illnesses can cause significant physical damage and distress and lead to suicide.
Mental health is a complex interplay of a person’s genetics, environment and lifestyle, as well as their personality and cognitive abilities. In addition, psychological deprivation and trauma, social defeat and isolation, poverty and a poor family environment can all increase the risk of mental disorders.
Some of the most effective treatments for mental illness are lifestyle changes, such as exercise and a healthy diet. These can be combined with medicine or other treatments such as counselling, which may be prescribed by a health professional.
The most important factors determining mental health are how much the condition affects a person’s ability to function and how it affects their relationships. It is therefore essential for every person to be able to identify their own needs, understand how to deal with them and seek help.