Mental health is an individual’s ability to cope with life’s challenges. It is the foundation for emotional, cognitive, and social well-being. A person with healthy mental health is able to participate fully in life and to experience appropriate human emotions. However, a person with a mental disorder has difficulty functioning in everyday activities and may suffer from emotional distress.
Some mental illnesses, such as depression, affect a person’s day-to-day life. Others, such as schizophrenia, can cause serious, sometimes life-threatening symptoms. For instance, major depression causes a steady, persistent low mood that interferes with normal functioning. People experiencing a depressed mood should seek professional care. Depression can be treated with medication or psychosocial interventions.
Adverse childhood experiences, such as parental death or physical abuse, can increase the risk for developing a mental disorder. Other risk factors include certain genetic factors and brain structure. Stressful jobs and stressful life events can also put people at risk.
Most mental illnesses are not caused by a single event, but by a combination of factors. While some mental disorders can be treatable, others can lead to homelessness, substance abuse, and suicide. In addition, a person with a mental disorder can suffer from discrimination and other forms of social exclusion. The stigma associated with the condition can compound the situation.
Effective treatment options for people with mental disorders include psychosocial interventions, behavioural therapies, and occupational therapy. Interventions focus on improving the person’s cognitive and sensory skills, as well as interpersonal relationships. Cognitive skills include visual-perceptual and attentional abilities.
Psychosocial interventions involve social interactions with a person’s peers. These interventions are designed to help the person develop skills to handle stress, improve emotional functioning, and promote positive functioning. Social incentives can include financial benefits, ad hoc training programs, and facilitated job opportunities.
The most common types of mental disorders include anxiety and depressive disorders. People with these disorders may experience extreme sadness and lack of interest in previously enjoyed activities. They may also have obsessive-compulsive behaviors or panic attacks.
Some common treatments for these conditions include psychosocial interventions, medications, and sleep. Early identification and treatment can speed up the recovery process. Many people recover from mental illnesses and are able to live productive, healthy lives.
A person can get sick at any time. This is true whether or not the person has a physical illness. There are some people who can be infected with a virus or other type of disease. Similarly, it is possible to have a mental illness without having a physical disease. But a person’s physical health should be integrated with their mental health. Depending on the severity of the illness, social support may be necessary.
One in five adults in the United States has a diagnosable mental illness. About one in 12 have a diagnosable substance use disorder. Among adolescents, suicide is the leading cause of death. Untreated mental disorders can lead to serious consequences, including homelessness, substance abuse, and inappropriate incarceration.
Although there are effective treatment options for people with mental disorders, a treatment gap exists for many conditions. For example, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) suggests that genetic family history should be considered in determining risk for mental illnesses.