Mental health is the overall wellness of how an individual thinks, behaves, and regulates different life demands and changes. Mental well-being is the ability of an individual to have a sense of inner connectivity, and balance and to use his/her abilities in harmony with the universal values of society. It involves basic cognitive and social skills. The ability to identify, express and modulate one’s own emotions, as well as empathize with others. Mental well-being is about flexibility and the ability to cope with adverse life events and adjust to changing roles as well as different functions in social living. It encompasses the harmonious relationship between body and mind/brain in different life stages.
This involves respect and care for oneself and other living beings; recognition of connectedness between people; respect for the environment; respect for one’s own and others freedom. This concept also incorporates and acknowledges the reality that mentally healthy people may experience appropriate human emotions – including for example fear, anger, sadness, joy, and grief – whilst at the same time possessing sufficient resilience to restore the dynamic state of internal equilibrium.
It is well known that positive mind-body activity is a clear indicator to suitable health status. Sometimes people experience a significant disturbance in this mental functioning. Cultural norms and social expectations also play a role in defining mental health and related disorders. There is no standard measure across cultures to determine whether a behavior is normal or when it becomes disruptive. What might be normal in one society may be a cause for concern in another.
A mental disorder is characterized by a significant disturbance in an individual’s cognition, emotional regulation, and behavior-social adjustment. It is usually associated with distress or impairment in important areas of functioning. A mental disorder may be present when patterns or changes in thinking, feeling or behaving cause distress or disrupt a person’s ability to function.
A mental health disorder may affect a person in:
- Maintaining personal or family relationships
- Adjustment and functioning in social settings
- Performing at work or school
- Learning at an appropriate age and intelligence level expected
- Participating in other important activities.
There are many different types of mental disorders, psychosocial disabilities and (other) mental states associated with significant distress, impairment in functioning, or risk of self-harm. According to WHO, Depression is one of the leading causes of disability. Suicide is the fourth leading cause of death among 15-29-year-olds. People with severe mental health conditions die prematurely – as much as two decades early – due to preventable physical conditions. Mental disorders do cause disability and ill-health in the world. Unlike other diseases, mental health disorders can affect anyone irrespective of their age, gender, class, or ethnicity. There are multiple factors that lead to conditions like anxiety, depression, eating, sleeping disorders, Schizophrenia, as well as Psychotropic substance addictions. The difficulty in identifying and acknowledging mental disorders is that, like physical diseases and injuries, psychological health is not evident and people still hesitate in talking about it. One of the major reasons for this hesitation is that anyone with a mental disorder is not seen by society as a normal person but is mostly stereotyped into certain specific negative frames of reference.
What does mental health mean?
In a broader sense: mental illness is a general term used to describe a number of significant
- One’s thinking can change causing difficulty in concentration, memory, and attending to regular affairs. It affects important areas of life making one more anxious, fearful, angry, or sad.
- Losing the pleasure of social company and activities.
- Having difficulty with eating, sleeping, and maintaining personal hygiene.
- Losing interest in work.
These are unpleasant changes and in general, the person is not happy because of impaired functioning of the brain and mood.
A few mental health conditions are –
- Psychosis – Schizophrenia
- Mood disorder – Bipolar disorder, Depression, Seasonal affective disorder
- Paranoid disorder
- Deliberate Self-harm, suicide
- Anxiety – Panic disorder, phobias, obsessive-compulsive disorder
- Eating disorders
- Personality disorders
- Behavioral, psychotropic substance/s dependency, addictions
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Adjustment disorder
- Intellectual disability
- Attention deficit, hyperactivity disorder
- Learning disability
- Pervasive developmental disorders
Dealing with mental health disorders:
Mostly due to lack of awareness and stigma, a person with such an illness is not given the proper treatment. An individual suffering from a mental health condition may not have an insight or understanding of the problem. The individual may have difficulty in the work process such as lack of attention and focus, fluctuating mood changes, and adjustment with people. Many times even the close family members, friends, and colleagues aren’t even aware of the mental disorder and may assume it as anger, being emotionally sensitive, shy, careless, or reckless behavior/issue.
People with mental disorders can be helped by:
- Identification by a qualified mental health professional
- Psychoeducation, Counselling, and Psychotherapy by a qualified psychologist.
- Medical treatment by a psychiatrist
- Support from family and friends
- Proper guidance and understanding in group therapy under a qualified mental health
For general mental health improvement individuals can:
- Engage in productive, creative activities. It could be anything from reading a book to playing a sport, playing a musical instrument, anything that engages our senses, helping in growth and development.
- Engage in fulfilling relationships. These should make us feel stronger and happier and support us while also being reciprocal. This means having a healthy relationship with friends, colleagues, and family.
- The ability to change and cope with a difficult situation. This includes the ability to be flexible and solve the problems at hand. Developing Resilience.
Mental health is not blissful thinking and happiness 24×7. Human beings and even animals have phases of mood changes depending on the situations. One can be happy, sad, anxious, tired, enthusiastic, angry, etc. Most people with mental disorders develop unhealthy coping methods to deal with the challenges, by trying to avoid situations. Anyone can be affected by a mental health condition.
The correct guidance and medical care about dealing with stress is easily accessible at Apollo group of hospitals. Clinical psychology, psychiatry and Neurology are among the top specialties at Apollo hospitals. Choose from our trusted group of experts at Ask Apollo for any help related to mental health.
Dr. Namita Singh
Apollo Hospitals, Jubilee Hills, Hyderabad