Mental health is the emotional and psychological well-being that affects a person’s cognition, perception, behavior and decision-making. It is an important part of overall health and wellbeing, but it can be a challenge to understand.
There are many different types of mental health problems. Some can be treated with medication and some require therapy or other treatment. Symptoms can range from mild to severe and may cause significant distress or interfere with a person’s life.
The risk of developing a mental disorder can be due to genetics and a person’s life experiences. Environmental factors, such as toxins, disease or trauma, can also trigger the development of mental illness.
A mental disorder is a serious and sometimes life-threatening condition that requires medical attention to treat or prevent. It can have a dramatic impact on the quality of a person’s life and affect their ability to work, live with family or care for themselves.
Diagnosing a mental health disorder is a multi-step process that involves looking at a person’s history, performing a physical exam, and ordering laboratory tests. The doctor will also do a psychological evaluation of the patient to get a better understanding of what is causing their symptoms.
Some mental disorders can be caused by a combination of factors, such as brain chemistry. A change in the levels of certain chemicals called neurotransmitters can alter brain functions and cause a mental disorder.
Another factor is how well a person responds to stress. Psychiatric disorders can often be improved by learning effective coping skills and managing stress. A supportive social network can be especially helpful for people suffering from a mental disorder.
Increasingly, mental health is seen as a positive rather than negative factor in life. This is supported by the burgeoning literature in positive psychology.
However, a person’s perception of their own mental wellness can be shaped by a variety of factors, including a person’s lifestyle and their level of education. This is a complex area that requires a wide range of skills and knowledge, both for individuals and mental health practitioners.
In the United States, the cost of mental illness and substance abuse is more than 100 billion dollars each year. Without treatment, these conditions can lead to disability, homelessness, unemployment, substance use and incarceration.
Untreated mental health conditions can affect all areas of a person’s life, from their work and family life to their personal relationships and social life. The consequences are staggering and can have a devastating effect on a person’s self-esteem, quality of life and ability to function.
A comprehensive approach to mental health can include a combination of prevention, early diagnosis, specialized mental health care and psychosocial support. The World Health Organization (WHO) and its Member States are committed to ensuring that all people have access to quality and affordable mental health services.
WHO works to strengthen national mental health systems through a variety of interventions. It gives particular emphasis to protecting and promoting human rights, empowering people with lived experience and ensuring a multisectoral and multistakeholder approach.