What Is Mental Health?
Mental health is a critical part of health and wellbeing. Unfortunately, mental health is often overlooked or misunderstood. In this blog post, we will define mental health and discuss the different types of mental illness. We will also explore how to get help if you are struggling with your mental health. By understanding mental health, we can work together to improve the overall wellbeing of our society.
World Health Organization (WHO) said mental health is defined as “a state of wellbeing in which every individual realizes his or her potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and can make a contribution to her or his community” [i]. This definition highlights the importance of mental health to overall wellbeing. However, it’s important to note that mental illness is not the same as having a mental health condition. While mental illness can impact an individual’s ability to function, one does not necessarily have to experience mental illness to struggle with mental health.
What Are The Common Types Of Mental Illness?
While there are many different types of mental illness, they are typically divided into three categories: neurodevelopmental disorders, psychotic disorders, and mood disorders. We will discuss all three of these types and their signs and symptoms later in this post.
It is also important that mental illness is not a choice or something you can “get over.” According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, one in five adults experiences mental illness each year. However, when broken down by gender, women are 70% more likely than men to experience a mental health condition, and between 40-60% of adults who need treatment for a mental health condition do not seek help [ii]. This is primarily due to stigma and misunderstanding surrounding mental illness and those who experience it. If you are struggling, don’t let stigma prevent you from getting the help you need.
Fortunately, there is hope!
There are many resources available to those who struggle with their mental health and those who would like to understand better how they can help others. We will explore these resources and talk about what you can do if you struggle with mental illness or want to help a friend or significant other.
Let’s first define the types of mental illness
There are three distinct categories: neurodevelopmental disorders, psychotic disorders, and mood disorders.
According to the American Psychiatric Association, neurodevelopmental disorders typically occur during infancy, childhood, and adolescence. These disorders include intellectual and developmental disabilities such as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) [iii], Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) [iv], Childhood Disintegrative Disorder, Asperger’s Syndrome, Rett Syndrome, and many others [v]. Individuals with neurodevelopmental disorders typically have trouble communicating and maintaining social relationships. In addition, they tend to avoid eye contact and struggle with fine and gross motor skills, sensory processing, and similar issues [vi].
Many people are familiar with psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. These disorders involve hallucinations, delusions, and disorganized thinking [vii]. Unlike neurodevelopmental disorders, psychotic disorders typically do not begin until adolescence or early adulthood [viii].
Individuals with mood disorders typically experience a persistent low mood accompanied by a loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy. Examples include Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), Bipolar Disorder, and Persistent Depressive Disorder [ix].
Another vital thing is that there are many different mental illnesses. For example, some people develop anxiety disorders, while others struggle with more long-term schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. If you are working, don’t be afraid to ask for help. There are many resources available to those with mental health issues and those who wish to understand better how to support their loved ones.
What can you do if you are struggling with your mental health?
The first step is to recognize that you may have a problem. Mental illness can be challenging to identify if you do not know what to look for, so we must better understand what mental illness is and the signs and symptoms that accompany it. The most common signs are mood fluctuations, changes in eating or sleeping habits, substance abuse, and trouble concentrating [x]. If you are concerned that a friend or family member may be struggling with mental illness, it’s essential to take a step back and support them. Being a good friend can go a long way, so don’t be afraid to talk to them about what they may be experiencing.
Here are some tips for someone with mental illness:
1) Recognize that what they are going through is genuine and not their fault.
2) set boundaries and communicate these with them [xi]. This will help you avoid burnout and allow them to regain independence.
3) Let them know that they are important and loved but cannot help them if they refuse treatment.
4) Remember that it’s okay not to know what to say; be there for them.
5) Avoid advising unless they specifically ask for it.
6) Don’t be afraid to seek your support if you struggle to cope.
7) Don’t use mental illness as a way to criticize or invalidate someone’s feelings [xii].
On a final note
It’s important to remember that mental illness cannot be controlled without help. This isn’t meant to imply that the person with the mental illness is in any way to blame. But rather highlight how important it is to find support for whatever they are facing. By learning more about mental illness, we can reduce the stigma surrounding these issues and provide better support for struggling people.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is a great place to start. If you are interested in learning more about mental illness. They provide information, education, and advocacy around mental illness. In addition, they offer support groups for those who are struggling and their families.