Mental health is the culmination of your emotional, psychological, and social wellbeing. How we think, feel, and act are all affected by the status of our mental health, and it also determines how we handle stress, how we relate to others, and the choices we make.
While it is perfectly normal to have mental health concerns from time to time, if you begin to have ongoing signs and symptoms that are causing you frequent stress and affecting your ability to function, you could have a mental illness. Mental illness refers to a wide range of conditions that affect your mood, thinking, and behavior. Some common types of mental illness include depression, anxiety disorder, schizophrenia, addictive behaviors, and eating disorders.
What is the difference between mental health and mental illness?
Sometimes the answer to this question is clear, while other times the distinction isn’t so obvious. While it is normal to be afraid to speak in public, or have a shy personality, the line between these aversions and having anxiety or a social phobia is sometimes blurry. Since there is no easy test that will tell you if there is indeed something wrong, mental illnesses are diagnosed based on the severity of your signs and symptoms, as well as how much the condition is interfering with your daily life. There are three categories of symptoms that can indicate a mental illness:
- Behavior: Excessively and consistently drinking alcohol or obsessively washing your hands could indicate that you have a mental illness.
- Feelings: Deep or ongoing sadness, euphoria, or anger are often what characterizes certain mental illnesses.
- Dangerous Thoughts: If you have delusions or thoughts of suicide, these are common symptoms of mental illness.
What is good mental health?
Having good mental health does not mean that you simply don’t have a diagnosable mental illness. Rather, good mental health is characterized by a person’s ability to fulfill certain key functions and activities. These include:
- The ability to feel, express, and manage a range of positive and negative emotions: If a person experiences too many emotions, they might lead a very moody, up-and-down kind of life. However, too few emotions means that the person is not allowing themselves to participate in an important part of the human experience, which includes the ability to feel both positive and negative emotions.
- The ability to cope with and mange change and uncertainty: How you react and cope with situations that involve stress says a lot about the state of your mental health.
- The ability to form and maintain good relationships with others: Some people need little social interaction to feel happy, while others need more social contact in order to find balance in their lives.
- The ability to learn: Mentally healthy people are able to approach new topics with interest and are open to learning new things, instead of being completely closed off and unteachable.
The key to achieving good mental health is balance. Finding peace and balance with your social, emotional, and psychological states means that you are in a place of good mental health. Because balance means different things to different people, there is no clear way to quantify this. If you feel happy and satisfied with these areas of your life, you are mentally healthy, even if someone from an outside perspective may not agree with your definition of balance.
Featured Image Source: DepositPhotos © garagestock