Mental health 101: Getting the basics right
How often do you feel stressed about your work that your levels of worrying exceed? Or have a passive aggressive response to somebody’s polite query? Or feel tired in the morning even after a full night’s sleep? Your answer to these questions are determiners of your current mental health status. In the recent past, mental health awareness and the discourse associated with it was received with frowns and whispers. Thanks to the growing dialogue about mental health on internet platforms, the concept is gaining relevance and prominence. The present attention given to mental health issues is well deserved considering they have the highest prevalence in India.
In India alone, according to a survey done in 2016, nearly 56 million people out of the total population were suffering from core mental health issues. Moreover, it was reported that about 2,00,000 individuals ended their lives owing to these issues. The statistics are even more steep for the worldwide population.
Understandably, mental health disorders and issues require appropriate limelight. It is important to address not these problems in order to spread awareness about their management. In this article, with expert insights, we aim to contribute to this awareness by drawing on the fundamentals of mental health. Take a deep breath and read on.
What is Mental health?
Mental health, similar to your physical health, is recognised as the wellness of your mind. It is the status of your psychological and behavioral state in correspondence to the body.
Medically, medical health is defined as the combination of your emotional, social and psychological wellbeing. Your mental health helps determine how you interact, how you live your life, how you do your duties, how you manage stress and how you socialise.
Mental health is not an illness. It is the state of your mind. It can be good or bad and is important for everyone at every stage of life, be it your childhood or your adulthood.
Having a good state of mental health will have you
Why is mental health important?
Imagine you are suffering from the flu. You sit by your office all day sneezing and coughing with a runny nose and headache. It is obvious you are unwell and at this point in time, nobody is expected to ask you to participate and run in a marathon. Simply put because you are ill.
The tables turn when the subject is mental health. Like the flu, it also impacts the functioning of your body. It impacts how you concentrate and relate. The only difference is that the signs often go unnoticed.
This is purely why mental health is important. Poor mental health can go unacknowledged, unseen. The lack of recognition of a poor mental health is the reason why it aggravates in most people and translates into a disorder worsening each day.
The reason why mental health is important is because it defines your cognitive, emotional and social behaviour. Your thoughts, feelings and emotions all face the burnt if you have poor mental health.
In return, this state of mind can negatively impact your life by affecting your productivity, self-esteem, confidence, efficiency and even relationships.
Early warning signs of a bad mental health
Mental health is a very subjective aspect. It is different for everyone. All our minds work in different ways. We all have unique lives where we feel different feelings based on our experiences.
Therefore, the state of our mental health is also unique. Everyone experiences a different type of change when their mental health gets bad.
Researchers have compiled a list of the most common early signs of mental health. The following signs indicate that your mental health is not its best state.
- Sleeping too little or too much
- Eating too little or too much
- Withdrawing from people and social situations
- Losing interest in the activities you generally enjoyed
- Feeling tired all the time
- Feeling numb and indifferent
- Experiencing pains in different body parts
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Coping with stress with smoking, alcohol or other activities
- Feeling confused
- Losing concentration
- Poor memory
- Being easily triggered and shouting
- Being reactive at friends and family
- Mood swings
- Overthinking or intrusive thoughts
- Stomach problems
- Persistent thoughts or feelings you cannot get away from
- Overthinking about memories
- Hearing voices
- Believing things that are not true
- Self-harm thoughts
- Inability to do everyday activities
- Inability to perform regular functions like cleaning, bathing, brushing
- Persistent sadness
- Sudden introverted nature
Which factors can affect your mental health?
Your mental health changes each day based on how you live life or the kind of events you experience. Based on your routine, the places you go, people you meet, work you do, and the decisions you make among other things, you are likely to experience good or bad mental health signs.
Your life experiences, choices, biological factors, and family history among other factors affect your mental health.
Biological factors that can make your mental health poor include:
- Brain injury
- Poor nutrition
- Poor physical health
- Chronic illness
- Family history of a disease
- Poor lifestyle choices
Psychological factors impacting your mental health are:
- Poor confidence
- Low self-esteem or self-image
- Poor relationships with closed ones
- Feeling unworthy or unloved
- Lack of support
Environmental factors that impact your mental health are:
- Poor work-life balance
- Abusive or difficult environments
- Exposure to abusive, aggressive and violent behaviour
What are the most common mental health disorders?
Poor mental health, if not taken care of, can soon turn into a mental health disorder. A mental health disorder or illness is an umbrella term to define a range of various conditions that affect your mood, thinking, and behaviour.
There are several different types of mental health disorders, these include:
- Panic disorder
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Bipolar disorder
- Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
What are the benefits of good mental health?
It is unsaid that if you feel healthy with both your mind and body, you will feel happy. Having good mental health can help you lead a healthier and happier life. If you achieve good mental health, you will not be able to relieve the above-given signs but also have a rather joyful and pleasing life.
Common benefits of good mental health include:
- Reduced anxiety
- Improved mood
- Clear thinking
- Greater sense of peace
- Decreased risk of developing mental health disorders
- Elevated calm
- Better productivity
- Better relationships
- Better personal physical health
- Higher energy levels
- Sharper memory
- Improved sleep cycle
- Higher self-image and self-esteem
- Improved communication
- Greater self-acceptance
What should I do if I think I have a mental health problem?
The above-mentioned signs can help you understand your emotional, psychological and behavioural needs better.
Here is a list of steps you can take to improve your mental health:
- Exercise routinely
- Consider counselling
- Practice journaling
- Practice acts of kindness
- Understand your triggers
- Create coping mechanisms
- Learn relaxation technique
- Set realistic goals
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle
- Talk about your feelings
You can consult our mental health experts for more clarity and information.
Ques. What is the importance of community mental health?
Community mental health is defined by the facility of crisis management, social support, and access to healthcare services. It provides an early detection and management of critical mental health problems.
Ques. What is the importance of healthy self-esteem to mental and emotional health?
Your mental wellness is also dependent on your emotional health. Your self-esteem and emotional wellbeing are critical to having good mental health as it allows you to gain confidence, handle adversity, and have positivity.
Ques. What is the importance of mental health among youth?
Young adults experience a range of changes in their hormones, emotions and environment that puts their mental health under critical purview. It is thus important for them to lead a healthy lifestyle and have good mental health.
Ques. How to Get Help For Mental Health?
If these suggestions deem ineffective, you are advised to seek mental health support from a verified expert, counsellor or therapist.