Mental health is the ability to cope with emotions, thoughts and behaviour. It is the foundation for relationships, learning, resilience, hope and self-esteem.
People with mental health problems need support to help them get better and stay well. This includes talking to friends, family and professional services such as GPs and psychologists.
Most people who develop a mental illness recover to live full and happy lives. However, a small number of people do not recover and continue to suffer symptoms. The causes of this are not understood but may be linked to genetics, the way your brain works, how you grew up, how you interact with others and your environment.
Psychological therapies are used to treat some mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety. These treatments take a psychological approach and can help you understand the underlying cause of your condition and how to change the way you think. They can also reduce your risk of isolation and self-harm.
Treatment of mental illnesses is often a combination of medication and psychosocial therapies. Medications can improve the symptoms of a mental disorder and allow you to return to work, school and relationships. Psychosocial therapies can include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), interpersonal therapy, peer support groups and other community services.
The main goal of all these interventions is to improve the quality of life for people with mental health disorders and enable them to lead a more active, fulfilling and productive lifestyle. Getting help early is essential to preventing long-term damage.
Many mental health problems are linked to a range of social, financial and physical factors. Poor social and economic circumstances, a lack of emotional security, exposure to violence or abuse, or poor dietary and physical health can all increase the risk of developing a mental health condition.
Having an underlying medical problem can also increase your risk of developing a mental health condition. These can include mental health disorders, such as depression and a range of other illnesses such as asthma, diabetes and heart disease.
The best ways to prevent a mental health condition are not always easy, but they can be effective and affordable. For example, there are a wide range of low-cost approaches to prevent depression, such as exercise, diet and stress management.
Some countries have embraced this approach to reduce the burden of mental health conditions and improve their population’s overall health. These approaches involve integrating mental health into primary and secondary health care, ensuring access to mental health care, improving public awareness of mental illness and promoting recovery.
A key challenge is to ensure that people with mental health conditions have access to equitably funded and high-quality health services, both for treatment and prevention. This includes the development of evidence-based, accessible, scalable and sustainable solutions for delivering mental health services that are both affordable and appropriate for people’s needs.
The need for equitably funded and high-quality mental health services is particularly acute in low-income and middle-income countries. The World Bank estimates that mental health spending is less than 1% of total national healthcare expenditure in these countries, and many people with mental health conditions do not have access to such services.