What is “Mental Health”? Why is it Important?

Your mental health is your psychological, emotional, and social well being. It’s affected by many factors including your past experiences (particularly abuse or trauma), your biology (genetics and brain chemistry), and your current environment. Your mental health can be affected by where and how you grew up, your current physical state (certain illnesses affect your emotional state), and the structures and chemicals in your brain.

Your mental health is the lens through which you interact with the world. It affects how you react to new situations, how you work with other people, and what you think of yourself daily. Your mental health affects how you perceive and react to stimuli like stress, joy, pressure, and romantic attachment. It’s super important – yet there is a lack of accurate information available on mental health illness.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services published a guide called “Mental Health Myths and Facts” to help combat the many misconceptions surrounding the ideas of mental health.

They share,

Myth: Mental health problems don’t affect me.

Fact: Mental health problems are actually very common. In 2014, about:

  • One in five American adults experienced a mental health issue
  • One in 10 young people experienced a period of major depression
  • One in 25 Americans lived with a serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depression

 

That information might surprise you, but doesn’t surprise me. In my years of working with a wide range of people I’ve met many wonderful and resilient souls who’ve battled severe depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, and other illnesses. There shouldn’t be a cloud of shame hanging over anyone who is experiencing a mental health issue. In addition, it’s important to know your current mental state may not be long term or permanent.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services outlines:

Myth: There is no hope for people with mental health problems. Once a friend or family member develops mental health problems, he or she will never recover.

Fact: Studies show that people with mental health problems get better and many recover completely. Recovery refers to the process in which people are able to live, work, learn, and participate fully in their communities. There are more treatments, services, and community support systems than ever before, and they work.

Again: your mental health is the lens through which you see the world. The world is colored with many shades – the highs of love, security, and interconnectedness balanced with the lows of sadness, grief, and failure. The good and the bad make up the human experience – but can appear distorted without a healthy lens.

Cheers to a happier world and healthier lens to view it,

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