The Importance of Mental Health

Mental health encompasses an individual’s emotional, psychological and social well-being and is influenced by genetic, biological and environmental factors. It includes the ways we think, feel and react, as well as our resilience, hope and ability to form relationships, work productively and contribute to community and society.

People who live with mental illness can recover and lead fulfilling lives. With appropriate and effective medication, as well as psychotherapy or other forms of treatment, most people with serious mental illness can significantly reduce their symptoms and find a satisfying measure of independence and achievement.

Despite the fact that mental illness is just as common as cancer or heart disease, many people do not seek help for their conditions because of a persistent stigma and lack of access to quality care. This is particularly true for children and adolescents, and those living in rural areas. In addition, the lack of insurance coverage can prevent people from receiving much-needed mental health services.

Although researchers are still trying to understand what causes mental illness, they do know that it is often a combination of factors. Genetics can play a role, as can aspects of our social learning, such as how we grow up in our families and communities. Trauma, stress and life circumstances can also impact our mental health.

When mental illness is untreated, it can have a significant impact on our lives and cause distress that interferes with functioning and limits opportunities for meaningful work and relationships. It can also be very difficult to find and keep employment, maintain housing and pay for food and utilities.

The majority of the world’s population is affected by one or more mental disorders, resulting in high rates of morbidity and premature death. Despite this, the resources allocated by countries to address the global mental health crisis are inadequate and inequitably distributed, leading to an enormous care gap for common mental disorders.

There are a variety of different mental health treatments that can be used to treat or improve the symptoms of a mental illness, including psychotherapy (talk therapy), cognitive behavioral therapy, pharmacotherapies and group therapy. Research has shown that combining these treatments can increase the likelihood of recovery from mental illness.

Aside from treatment, there are a number of things that you can do to promote good mental health. These include getting enough sleep, eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly. Socializing and spending time with friends can also improve your mental health, as can finding a support group for those who have the same condition as you.

JMIR Mental Health is an open-access journal that features rapid, thorough peer review and professional production of PDF, HTML, XML, and EPUB versions of the articles, as well as full text search and indexing in PubMed Central, Scopus, SCIE, and JCR. In addition, JMIR Mental Health has an international author- and readership and welcomes submissions from around the world. Visit the journal homepage to learn more about how you can submit to JMIR Mental Health.