Mental health is an integral part of overall well-being, influencing how we think, feel, and behave. It affects how we interact with others and how we deal with daily stress and challenges.
People with good mental health are able to cope with life’s ups and downs, maintain healthy relationships, find meaningful work and make a contribution to their community. People with poor mental health are more likely to experience distress, emotional problems and difficulty functioning in everyday life.
A range of factors can impact your mental health including genetics, brain structure and function, your environment, and the use of substances like drugs or alcohol. Some people may be more at risk of developing a mental illness because of a negative childhood experience or ongoing stress, such as financial or relationship difficulties, abuse or living in a war zone. Certain medical conditions or hormone changes can also increase your risk for a mental illness.
Our researchers are exploring the complex interplay of these factors and developing interventions that target specific underlying mechanisms to prevent or improve mental disorders. Faculty in this area are advancing research on anxiety, mood and eating disorders, neuroinflammatory disorders, psychotic illnesses, and somatic disorders, as well as conducting research on the causes of both normal and abnormal human behavior.
Many people with mental illnesses can live fulfilling lives with the help of treatment and support systems. This includes medication, therapy and other treatments as well as a variety of recovery supports that can assist individuals in managing their symptoms and learning to manage their condition.
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines mental health as a state of well-being in which we realize our own abilities, can cope with normal stresses, have positive relationships and make a contribution to our community. This definition is broad and inclusive and reflects the broader aims of a health system that should be concerned with prevention, promotion, rehabilitation and cure.
There is a huge unmet need for mental health services around the world, with significant morbidity, disability and premature death. Yet resources for these services are often insufficient, unequally distributed and poorly utilized. Stigma, discrimination and lack of access to treatment further exacerbate the problem.
Everyone has the right to be healthy and have equal opportunities. While some people with mental health issues struggle, the majority are able to live satisfying lives with early and consistent treatment—often a combination of medications and therapy. The key is to stick with your treatment plan and never stop going to therapy or taking your medications without talking to your doctor first. By following your doctor’s advice, you can achieve better mental health and take control of your life. The road to recovery is challenging but it’s possible to overcome even the most serious mental health problems. With effective treatment and a sense of hope, most people with mental illness can recover, and find meaning and purpose in their lives. We can all work together to build a more mentally healthy and equitable world.