Mental health is about emotions, thinking, communication, learning, resilience, hope and self-esteem. It also is about relationships, personal and emotional well-being and contributing to a community or society.
Adolescence is a key time when mental health issues can be triggered. About 1 in 5 adults suffers from a mental illness at some point in their lives.
Although adolescence can be a period of tremendous stress, it is important to note that it also has the potential for positive development. For example, research has shown that developing cognitive and interpersonal skills can help prevent anxiety and depression in some people.
Despite the importance of adolescence, research on mental health is often limited to young adults. Only about one-third of the investment in mental health research is targeted at young people, and the link between research and services is poor.
Children’s emotional and social wellbeing is highly influenced by their environments. For instance, exposure to abuse and neglect at a young age can lead to mental health problems later in life. Similarly, poor living conditions, such as food shortages, can affect people’s ability to cope with everyday stresses and may increase their risk of developing a mental disorder.
A person’s mental health can be improved through a range of physical activities, such as regular exercise, healthy eating habits and a good night’s sleep. Psychotherapy (talk therapy) and medication can also be useful in treating mental illnesses.
Increasing awareness and education about mental health can help people understand the importance of caring for their health, and encourage them to seek professional treatment when symptoms become serious. This can reduce stigma and encourage the early detection and treatment of mental health problems, thereby improving their chances of recovery.
In some countries, people with mental health disorders are at a higher risk of being abused. This is a result of a variety of factors, including discrimination, exploitation and stigma. There is a growing global campaign to eliminate or at least minimize the use of coercive practices and human rights abuses in relation to people with mental health problems.
Many people who have a mental health problem can recover with help from their family and friends, and the right treatment. This can include support from a mental health care provider, such as a therapist or psychiatrist.
Medication is often a part of the treatment plan, with each person receiving a customized treatment based on their individual needs. Depending on the nature of their symptoms, they may also receive support from other resources such as self-help groups or peer support programs.
The most common types of medications used in mental health treatment are antidepressants, anti-anxiety medicines and mood-stabilizing medicines. These medications work differently for each person, and are often used in combination with other treatments such as psychiatric counseling.
For those who do not respond to or do not tolerate traditional treatments, alternative and complementary therapies can be helpful. For example, mindfulness meditation has been shown to be effective in relieving anxiety and depression.