Psychological health is an important component of overall well-being and influences cognition, perception and behavior. It also determines how an individual manages stress, builds relationships and copes with life’s setbacks and challenges. It is not simply the absence of mental illness such as depression or anxiety, but a state of psychological well-being that includes positive characteristics such as joy, a zest for life and a sense of purpose.
In addition, people who enjoy good mental health show compassion and empathy for others, value friendships and relationships and don’t hold grudges or blame others for their problems. They are able to control their emotions and have self-confidence, a good work ethic and the ability to bounce back from setbacks. They also take steps to stay physically healthy and do things they enjoy for pleasure and recreation.
According to the World Health Organization, 450 million people are affected by mental disorders. These can range from mild to severe and affect anyone, regardless of age, gender, culture or environment. The causes of these mental illnesses are complex and varied. They can include genetics, brain chemistry, experiencing trauma and/or other factors such as stress and other medical conditions.
A person who suffers from a mental disorder can struggle with daily activities and may find it difficult to get support and treatment. They may feel isolated and alienated from their family, friends and community because of the stigma associated with mental illness. As a result, people with mental disorders often live in poverty and are at greater risk of suicide.
People who have poor mental health are more likely to commit crimes and have trouble finding work or social interactions. They can also be more prone to addiction, as evidenced by the rising number of drug overdose deaths in recent years. The relationship between alcohol and mental health is well known, and identifying symptoms of both is a key step in overcoming addiction.
Despite the prevalence of mental disorders, many countries lack access to affordable and quality care. High levels of unmet need are found in low- and middle-income countries, where the mental health sector makes up only a small proportion of the total healthcare budget. Most countries rely on out-of-pocket payments from citizens who often struggle to afford this care.
The good news is that there are a variety of treatments for mental disorders, including talk therapy, medication and other interventions such as training, education, support groups and community involvement. There are also initiatives to reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness and improve awareness, such as Changing Minds in the United Kingdom and The Manic Monologues in the U.S. In addition, addressing the underlying causes of mental illness such as poverty, malnutrition and housing inequalities is essential to improving global mental health. Ultimately, the solution to better mental health lies in the hands of all governments and their partners. They need to invest in promotion and prevention, provide affordable and accessible care and build a strong system of support for individuals with mental illness.