Mental health includes emotional, psychological and social well-being – it influences how you feel, think, and act. It also determines how you handle stress, relationships and decision-making. Mental health is as important as physical health. It can be affected by both good and bad experiences and conditions, including genetics, aspects of your social learning (like how you grow up and the people around you), and environmental factors such as stressors and trauma, and whether you are able to connect with others in healthy ways.
The vast majority of mental illnesses are treatable. Most can be improved or resolved through talk therapy and medicines. Taking care of yourself by eating well, getting enough sleep and exercising can also improve your mental health.
It is estimated that 14.1 million adults in the United States had a serious mental illness (SMI) in the past year, according to NSDUH. People who have SMI can experience many challenges, including difficulty at work, school and home, and problems with their relationships and personal life. They can have poorer quality of life and a greater risk of suicide than those without.
Having a mental illness can increase the risk of substance use disorders, such as alcohol or drug abuse. These disorders can be treated with talk therapy and medicines, which can help you overcome the disorder and recover your life.
Mental and behavioral health problems can impact your whole family – children, teens and adults. They can also affect your friends and relatives, coworkers and classmates. Taking care of your mental and behavioral health can help you lead a happier, healthier life and be more productive at work, in school or with your family.
The underlying causes of mental health and mental illness are complex, influenced by genetics and aspects of your social learning (like how you grew up) as well as environmental factors such as stressors, trauma, and violence. These can be at a local level, like bullying and gang activity, or at a global level, such as humanitarian crises and forced displacement and climate change.
Many people with a mental health condition are at risk of going without needed treatment. The CNN/KFF survey found that 6 out of 10 adults who report their mental health to be fair or poor say they have not received the care they need. This figure is even higher among minority groups, younger adults and LGBT adults. The most common reasons cited for not receiving help include being too busy or unable to take time off work, and being too afraid or embarrassed to seek care.
To make sure everyone has access to the care they need, governments and organizations need to focus on reducing risks and promoting resilience. These efforts often involve partners from other sectors, such as education, labour, transport, housing and justice, and should be based on a holistic approach that takes into account the interplay between risks and protective factors. The health sector can also play a critical role by embedding promotion and prevention within its services and facilitating multisectoral partnerships.