This week is all about mental health and with #mentalhealthawarness trending across social media, the conversation has started but what is mental health?
Mental health is the health of our minds. This includes our emotional, psychological and social wellbeing. It affects our feelings, thoughts, mood and behaviour. As well as how we deal with life’s ups and downs, the choices we make and our relationships with people.
Why do we need to know this?
Because mental illness affects 19% of adults, 46% of teenagers and 13% of children each year with no discrimination. Your age, gender, sexuality, race or occupation doesn’t make a difference. Although mental health doesn’t discriminate, people do and the stigma around mental ill health can lead to the discrimination of those suffering. Usually by people who don’t fully understand what mental health actually is.
It’s also important that we look after our own/others mental health just like we would our own/others physical health. You wouldn’t ignore or be judged for a broken leg and you’d probably be offered help because people understand and can see you struggling. However when it comes to mental health this may not be the case as many don’t understand and can’t see anything wrong.
How does mental ill health affect people?
It affects your emotions, thoughts and behaviours but how exactly depends on what mental disorder you are suffering from. People can experience any or multiple of the following among others:
- Feeling sad or down
- Confused thinking or inability to concentrate
- Excessive fears or worries, or extreme feelings of guilt
- Extreme mood changes of highs and lows
- Withdrawal from friends and activities
- Significant tiredness, low energy or problems sleeping
- Detachment from reality (delusions), paranoia or hallucinations
- Inability to cope with daily problems or stress
- Trouble understanding and relating to situations and to people
- Major changes in eating habits
- Excessive anger, hostility or violence
- Suicidal thinking
What causes mental ill health?
Just like any physical illness there are a number of different factors which can cause people to suffer from mental ill health, these include:
Genetics – Four of the most common psychiatric disorders are genetically linked. This means that mental health disorders such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Clinical Depression, Bipolar Disorder and Schizophrenia can be inherited from family members.
Brain Chemistry – Having a chemical imbalance in the brain, either having too much or too little of certain chemicals such as norepinephrine and serotonin, can cause mental health disorders such as Depression, Anxiety and Bipolar Disorder.
Brain Structure – A range of mental health disorders such as schizophrenia, Bipolar and depression actually stem from the same part of the brain. Specifically linked to the loss of grey matter, which causes problems with processing information, making rational decisions and dealing with emotions.
Experiencing Trauma – When you experience a traumatic event, your body’s defences kick in creating a chemical and stress response which helps you respond in the moment. However following this you can also experience feelings of sadness, anger and guilt which can develop in to depression and PTSD.
Other Medical conditions – Our physical and mental health are linked. People who live with a long-term physical condition such as diabetes or asthma are also likely to experience mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety.
Social Factors – As well as the above physical factors there are a wide range of social factors which can affect your mental health including school, work, family, relationships, finances and social media. These affect everyone differently and in different ways, as it depends on your capacity to deal with the situation. For example school/exam stress may be overwhelming and have a negative impact on your mental health but could be a good motivator to someone else.
Hopefully we’ve provided you with an understanding of what mental ill health is, the importance of knowing, how it can affect people and that it can be caused by a variety of factors. If you’d like to find out more or need to know where to get help then visit mindyourway.co.uk.