What Is Mental Health

A Healthy Mind

Mental health has to do with how you feel about yourself, how you feel about others, and how you are able to meet and handle the demands of life. It is not the absence of problems. Rather, it describes the ability to balance problems with appropriate coping skills. There is no line which separates the mentally healthy from the unhealthy. But we do know that the right amount of sleep and exercise, a proper diet and appropriate medical care can go a long way toward improving both our physical and mental health.

Most people believe that mental disorders are rare and "happen to someone else." But, mental disorders are common and widespread. Studies show that 1 in 5 adults suffer from mental illness and an estimated 54 million Americans are diagnosed with some form of mental disorder in any given year.

A mental illness is a disease that causes mild to severe disturbances in thought and/or behavior, resulting in an inability to cope with life's ordinary demands and routines. There are more than 200 classified forms of mental illness. Some of the more common forms of mental illness are depression, anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, dementia and schizophrenia. Symptoms may include changes in mood, personality, personal habits and/or social withdrawal.

Mental health problems may be related to excessive stress due to a particular situation or series of events. As with cancer, diabetes and heart disease, mental illnesses are often physical as well as emotional and psychological. Mental illnesses may be caused by a reaction to environmental stresses, genetic factors, biochemical imbalances, or a combination of factors. With proper care and treatment many individuals learn to cope or recover from a mental illness or emotional disorder.