A person’s mental health includes the state of his or her emotions, thoughts and feelings, as well as their perceptions, decisions and relationships. Mental disorders, however, interfere with these core elements of mental health, causing changes in the way we feel and perceive ourselves, others and the world around us. This change in our moods, thinking and energy can be seen in the most severe psychiatric conditions such as psychoses or bipolar disorder, but also in less serious psychiatric conditions such as anxiety or depression.
In order to diagnose mental health problems, doctors must first assess a patient’s symptoms and experiences. They may also perform a physical exam to see if there is any physical cause. Once they have ruled out a physical cause, they will do a psychological evaluation, which involves asking questions about the patient’s thoughts, emotions and feelings and evaluating his or her relationships with family members and friends. Doctors may also recommend certain treatment options, such as medication, psychotherapy or cognitive behavioral therapy, which can help a patient overcome the problems that are causing him or her distress.
Scientists are now starting to understand the complex causes of mental illness. Many factors play a role, including genes, brain chemistry, environment and life experiences. Some people are at greater risk for mental illness because of a family history, such as having a parent with mental illness. Other factors include negative childhood experiences, such as abuse or neglect, living in a war zone, substance use and having another medical condition such as heart disease or diabetes.
Unlike somatic illnesses like diabetes, mental health is heavily influenced by values and personal beliefs. This is particularly true in psychiatry, where the determination of biological or even psychological dysfunction is often controversial and loaded with more universally shared values than are somatic disorders.
As a result, there are a number of explanatory models for mental health that differ across cultures and times. These models have been developed from scientific knowledge, as well as from personal and societal experience. Despite this diversity, these explanatory models are all linked by common themes, such as the idea that mental illness is a symptom of a fundamentally abnormal or imbalanced self.
In conclusion, the main goal of mental health is to promote and protect emotional, social and psychological wellbeing. We believe that achieving this will lead to a better quality of life for everyone, regardless of their level of disability, in particular through the promotion and provision of effective, comprehensive and affordable care and services, supporting recovery and enabling participation.
WHO works globally, locally and in humanitarian settings to provide leadership and support, evidence-based policy development and implementation and ensuring equitable access to mental health care. This includes working with governments, communities and service providers to build resilience, promote the rights of people with lived experience and ensure a holistic approach to mental health and wellness.
A person’s mental health is influenced by a wide range of factors, including the ability to make and keep healthy choices at home and at work. This is why we need to continue to support a broad range of interventions that target positive functioning, sensory strategies, managing emotions, interpersonal relationships and meaningful paid or volunteer activities.