Mental health is a broad term that covers emotions, thinking, communication, learning, resilience and hope. It is also associated with your ability to function in social, work and family activities.
People with poor mental health are more likely to be depressed, anxious or lonely. In fact, more than 1 in 5 adults in the US experience anxiety disorders or depression on a regular basis.
There is no one cause of mental illness, but it can be triggered by a combination of factors including genetics, how your brain works, your environment, your social group, your culture and life experience. In addition, if you’ve experienced a trauma or if you’ve been exposed to a drug or alcohol problem, your risk of developing a mental health disorder may increase.
Some of the most common types of mental health conditions include depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, ADHD, PTSD, addiction and eating disorders. These conditions often require treatment with a range of medications and psychotherapy.
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines mental health as a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with normal stresses, is able to work productively and fruitfully, and is able to contribute to his or her community.
Mental health is essential for all aspects of human functioning and can be influenced by physical health. It is a basic human right to enjoy the highest attainable standard of mental health.
WHO’s “Comprehensive mental health action plan 2013-2030” aims to improve mental health through effective leadership and governance, comprehensive and integrated community-based care, promotion and prevention strategies, and strengthening information systems, evidence and research. Despite these efforts, many countries are failing to achieve the targets set in this plan and have a significant treatment gap for mental illness.
This gap has a significant impact on global health, as mental illness and the related consequences of suicide, substance use and incarceration are major causes of disability, premature mortality and inequalities in access to services. It is therefore imperative to improve the quality of mental health services in all countries.
The WHO estimates that around 70% of mental health and psychoactive substance-related disorders can be prevented through preventive measures such as screenings for adolescent girls and men, early intervention and treatment, and better public health education. A growing number of countries have developed policies and initiatives to support the development of these prevention and treatment strategies, such as Timothy’s law in the US.
In the US, the country’s Preventive Services Task Force has recommended that children ages 8 to 18 receive regular anxiety screenings and adolescents ages 12 to 18 receive depression screenings. In the UK, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence recommends that young people in school age should be offered mental health screenings at least twice a year.
It is crucial to reduce the stigma and discrimination associated with mental health issues in order to enable people to seek the right support when they need it most. The most effective way to address this is by encouraging people to talk about their feelings and seek help.