The state of our mental health is a critical aspect of our overall well-being. It influences the way we think, feel and behave and how we deal with life’s challenges and setbacks. It also determines our level of emotional, social and economic functioning.
It is possible for people to live with a mental health condition and still lead a full and productive life. But it is important to seek help early and not ignore symptoms. Symptoms may include changes in mood, sleep patterns or energy levels. They can interfere with work, school or social activities and make it difficult to cope with everyday stressors. They may also affect relationships and cause people to withdraw from their friends and family. In some cases, they can lead to thoughts of self-harm or suicide.
Despite the fact that mental health conditions are as common as any other illness, many people do not receive treatment. This is due to a variety of factors, including stigma and a lack of access to effective treatments. In addition, people often have difficulty recognizing their symptoms as signs of a mental health problem. They may mistakenly assume that their low or depressed mood is normal, especially following the loss of a loved one or a major life event. Others simply do not know where to turn for help or are concerned about the cost of care.
While the causes of mental illnesses are complex, treatment is generally effective. With psychotherapy (talk therapy) and/or medication, people with a mental health condition can learn to manage their symptoms and find a satisfying measure of recovery and independence.
Throughout history, mental health has been a subject of intense discussion and debate. Plato,1 who promoted a psychological perspective, and Hippocrates,2 who took a medical approach, both defined the state of mental health in different ways. The modern definition of mental health has evolved to include a person’s ability to enjoy the most important aspects of his or her life and cope with the inevitable stresses that come with it.
Mental disorders are the leading causes of disability worldwide. Yet, most of the world’s nations spend fewer than 1% of their health budgets on mental health services. As a result, countries with lower incomes are disproportionately affected by high levels of unmet need.
In California, many people have trouble accessing mental health and substance use disorder services. These barriers include a lack of providers, low rates of insurance acceptance and out-of-pocket costs. Additionally, there are a number of factors that influence mental health and the quality of care, including poverty, education, gender, race and ethnicity, immigration status, family structure and location.
It is crucial that we do everything we can to improve access to services for people with mental illness. We must increase investments in research and development for new treatments that are more affordable, effective and user-friendly. We must also work to reduce stigma by encouraging people to discuss their experiences with mental illness openly and honestly.