The Basics of Mental Health
by Lou-Ann Jordan May 2, 2022
Mental health problems are more common than we think.
There are many dealing with mental illnesses, though with varying severity. According to the severity, battling mental health problems can be debilitating, but people do get better. However, because of the stigma associated with it, many people do not get the help they need or even get diagnosed.
In recent times there has been an upsurge in reports of youths and adults experiencing psychological breakdowns and needing care. Therefore, we thought it timely to have a brief discussion about the basics of mental health.
What is mental health?
Mental health refers to one’s emotional, psychological and social well-being—generally, good mental health results in a relatively happy and healthy life. However, when we experience emotional, psychological and social disruptions, it can affect our thinking, mood and behaviour. Our ability to cope with these disruptions; our ability to respond to life’s adversities with resilience reflects our mental condition.
What factors influences mental health?
Several factors influence the quality of our mental health. And, these may vary according to the individual. That said, here are a few attributing determinants:
Genetics – family history of mental illness.
Life experiences – trauma or abuse.
Biology – one’s brain chemistry.
What are the early signs of mental health problems?
Although mental health problems are common – 450 million people worldwide have mental health issues, there continues to be a social stigma attached. Stereotypical portrayals of people with mental health problems being disabled, dangerous or even criminals only work to worsen things. The truth is that people with mental health problems are more likely to hurt themselves than other people. Moreover, because of the social disgrace and discrimination people face, they end up trapped in their illness, fearful of reaching out for help.
In many instances, people may be unaware of the early symptoms or even ignore them in need of being perceived as ‘normal.’ However, it is possible to make a full recovery with the assistance of professional help.
Here are some early signs to look out for:
- Eating or sleeping too much or too little.
- Seeking isolation by pulling away from people or normal activities.
- Experiencing numbness; feeling like nothing matters.
- Having unexplained aches and pains.
- Feeling a sense of helplessness or hopelessness.
- Sudden bouts of aggression.
- Severe mood swings resulting in significant highs and lows.
- Hearing voices you’re unable to stop.
- Having thoughts of harming yourself or others.
- Unusually forgetful, on edge, upset, scared or worried.
- Unable to perform everyday chores or activities like getting to work or school.
How do you establish and maintain good mental health?
Notwithstanding the factors that influence mental health, there are things we can do to ensure our well-being psychologically. Here are a few simple habits that help:
- Learn to examine your thoughts.
- Keep a positive outlook and attitude.
- Exercise regularly or maintain some form of physical activity.
- Get enough sleep.
- Eat healthily.
- Look for and offer help to other people.
- Spend time with people you enjoy being around.
- Adopt proper coping skills for life’s challenges.
- Seek professional help if you need it.
Similar to physical health, it is possible for everyone to experience good mental health. First, we need to be aware of our emotional and psychological states. Also, we need to engage in practices that affect us positively.
Everyone experiences moments when they feel overwhelmed by the difficulties of life. If you usually employ unhealthy coping methods, it would be best to seek professional help.
Most people with mental health problems are able to have a full recovery or live with and manage their illness—if caught early.
For mental health support contact, the Ministry of Health at 440-2649 or visit them at health.gov.gd.
Sources: MentalHealth.gov, Healthline and Mental Health Foundation