May is National Mental Health Awareness Month. Each year millions of Americans face the reality of living with a mental illness.
During May, Henry Mayo and the rest of the country are raising awareness of mental health.
What Is Mental Health?
Mental health is a product of our emotional, psychological and social well-being. It affects how we cope with life, how we think and how we feel. Mental health also determines how we handle stress in our day to day lives. It helps determine how we relate to others and what choices we make. It affects all stages of our lives.
Mental health is affected by many factors:
- Biological factors, like genes and brain chemistry
- Life experiences, for example abuse or trauma
- Family history of mental health issues
- Lifestyle, including diet, activity and substance abuse
Mental health can change over time. We all have times where we may be dealing with difficult situations that may affect our mental health. Most of the time, those feeling will pass. Sometimes they develop into more serious problems. Getting help can improve your mental health.
What Are Mental Health Problems?
It can be hard to know what are normal emotions and what it not. Mental health problems can be as simple as worries about everyday life to serious long-term conditions. Many people who experience mental health problems will learn to live with them or move on from them, especially if they get help early.
Some warning signs that you may have a mental health problem include:
- Change in eating or sleeping habits
- Withdrawing from people and activities you enjoy
- Low or no energy
- Feeling like nothing matters, feeling numb
- Unexplained aches and pains
- Feelings of hopelessness and helplessness
- Drinking, smoking or using drugs more than usual
- Unusually confused, forgetful, angry, upset, worries or scared
- Severe mood swings that interfere with your relationships
- Thoughts and memories that you can’t get out of your head
- Hearing voices or believing things that are not true
- Thinking of hurting yourself or others
- Unable to perform daily tasks like caring for family, going to work or school
Mental health problems are usually classified so that appropriate treatment can be given. However, too often people are labeled and treated by a label rather than as an individual. This can impact their quality of life. While it is important to seek help and diagnoses can help with treatment, it is vital we remember to treat everyone individually.
What Is Good Mental Health?
Good mental health doesn’t just mean you don’t have a mental illness. Good mental health is a state of well-being where you feel good and have the ability to function well in the world.
Mental health is important because it can help you:
- Cope with stress
- Be physically healthy
- Improve relationships
- Contribute meaningfully to your community
- Work productively
- Realize your potential
Check out this mental health checklist. You probably have good mental health if:
- You are confident when faced with new situations or people
- You feel optimistic
- You don’t always blame yourself
- You set goals
- You feel good about yourself
- You have good self esteem
Just because someone is not diagnosed with a mental health condition does not mean their mental health is flourishing. In addition, it is possible for a person with a mental health condition to feel well and do well in many aspects of their lives. Mental Health is complex. Stay informed and be aware of the mental health of yourself and those around you.