Is Mental Health Illness Or Well Being?

What does your mind conjure up when you see the words ‘mental health’? Yes, the phrase does reek with all sorts of connotations doesn’t it!

When you think of the phrase Mental Health….. is it about

People who are strange or not normal.
Mental illness is a stigma or label to be avoided or kept quiet about
Referring to issues of incapacity of the mind and behaviour
A term that is a label to describe insanity, madness, weird people
Pathologies like depression, schizophrenia.
Or even the Mental Health department in your State’s Health Department?
The World Health Organization defines mental health as “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.”

Not the first thing that comes into many people’s minds with that phrase is it?

Part of the problem is the actual term ‘mental health’ – it conjures up images of illness, yet the word health is the opposite of illness – if we have health, we have wellness, not illness.

Formally, it is a term used to describe either a level of cognitive or emotional well-being or an absence of a mental disorder. From perspectives of the discipline of positive psychology or holism mental health may include an individual’s ability to enjoy life and procure a balance between life activities and efforts to achieve psychological resilience.

The problem lies in the term itself – it is not accurately descriptive of what it means
So perhaps mental wellbeing or wellness is more to the point when encouraging or doing something positive about your own inner health.

Mental good health can also be defined as an absence of a major mental condition (for example, one of the diagnoses in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, IV) though recent evidence stemming from positive psychology suggests mental health is more than the mere absence of a mental disorder or illness. Therefore the impact of social, cultural, physical and education can all affect someone’s mental health.

We live in a society that takes great care of physical health or well being/wellness – look at the tremendous technological, pharmaceutical and research advances occurring every day.

Consider all the resources for physical health we have put before us constantly – weight loss programs and diets, gyms and exercise programs, fitness activities, sports, obesity concerns, nutritional supplements and so on.

Yet where is the equivalent education and push for mental well being? We readily take steps to ensure we avoid infections, injury and organic conditions (e.g. heart) – yet what do we do to avoid negative effects on our mental wellness?

So do you think of your own inner health as it were? And take care of it?

This is critically important when you consider that depression and anxiety affect so many, let alone more serious mental illness diagnoses.

In families, do we put as much conscious focus on mental well being as we do on physical health. Many know lots about good physical well being activities, but are we as informed about good mental health equivalents as we raise and teach our kids.

And, what State doesn’t have under-funded mental health department?

We have lost the concept of an holistic approach to our bodies, lives and society. We too readily compartmentalize – and put mental health into the too hard basket or simply neglect it.

We have ‘abnormalized’ mental health, instead of seeing it as important to our well being and a normal part of life – even if someone suffers from a mental illness.

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Exercise, Physical Activity and Mental Health

Exercise and physical activity play a crucial role in both maintaining one’s mental health condition and in recovering from a mental illness. Breaking research indicates that exercise actually produces a chemical that stimulates the growth of brain cells, thus allowing for recovery from sever substance abuse disorders. Furthermore, physical activity and mental health recovery coincide in fostering a social network and encouraging self-reflection, both of which are crucial on the path to mental health recovery.

The human mind evolved in an environment which required it to travel over twelve miles daily. And no, that drive to work in the morning does not count…but that would make things easier, no? This evolution was due to survival instincts when humans migrated from the jungles into the flatlands. Humans also developed an adrenaline reaction which both encouraged movement and triggered immediate learning reactions; as Doctor Carl Clark from the Mental Health Center of Denver once stated, when early man saw that saber-tooth tiger charging out of the brambles, the neurons must have been firing pretty fast to teach them to stay away from the bushes next time…that is assuming their get away was fast enough to allow for a next time!

This adrenaline rush encouraging learning has become neutralized by the flow of activities in modern western societies, wherein the normal individual is seemingly on a constant, albeit generally unnoticed, adrenaline rush. Consequently, stress levels have continuously been on the rise, consequently decreasing the rate at which an individual learns when in a compromising situation, thus decreasing mental wellness levels.

Physical activity is a huge aid to mental health in the fact that exercise allows for a stress outlet, thus decreasing day-to-day stress, while creating functional adrenaline for the mind. In reality, physical activity is important for mental health due to its role in creating Brain Derived Neurotropic Factor (BDNF), which is a key factor in the creation of brain cells. The myth of the old days is past; you know the one, where once your brain cells are gone they are gone. Well such is not the case, physical activity and exercise can increase BDNF levels and allow the re-growth of brain cells, consequently making physical activity immensely important for mental illness recovery.

Exercise and mental health further coincide in regards to the alarming statistic that people with mental illnesses, on average, die 20 years sooner than mentally healthy individuals. While there are many factors that go into this involved in substance abuse risk factors, two considerations that one would be remiss to ignore is the fact that those suffering from mental illnesses have a tendency to stagnate and become physically inactive. This has resulted in a large percentage of mental health consumers being considered overweight, which can ultimately result in adult onset diabetes. Diabetes is very dangerous in sedentary individuals who, in a depressant state, care little about taking care of themselves, for such a medical ailment can result in numerous health related issues, some of which can be very serious.

Physical activity and mental illness recovery are highly correlated. In some of the most successful recovery-based treatment facilities one will find strong proponents of mental health consumers engaging in physical activity. These activities also subsidize the development and formation of a support network populated by individuals interested in similar hobbies. Furthermore, exercise can often be a form of active meditation, and as practitioners of Dialectic Behavioral Treatment (DBT) can profess, meditation, including meditation absent any religious connotations (whether it be active or seated), drives self-reflection which is crucial to mental health recovery; for more information on the importance of self-reflection, you can access my article on Spirituality and Hope in Mental Health.

Stay physically active, exercise and mental wellness are highly correlated. Exercise is one of the best ways to prevent the development of serious mental illnesses, and is also one of the most effective treatment plans. Stay active, stay healthy, stay happy.

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The Power of Mental Health

Mental health is something all of us want for ourselves, whether we know it by name or not. There are no easy answers here – mental fitness is the awkward stepchild you sent away to the state hospital in the country and visited once a year.

In fact good mental health is an integral part of good overall health for people with HIV. Primary Care Mental Condition is a new, peer-reviewed journal on research, education, development and delivery of mental health in primary care. But mental health is far more than merely the absence of mental illness.

Depressions are the greatest Problem

People are four times more likely to break off a romantic relationship if their partner is diagnosed with severe depression than if they develop a physical disability. Overall, the two strongest predictors for thinking about suicide were depression and substance abuse.

Through compelling personal stories told through television, video, the Internet, and print media, the campaign encourages men to recognize depression and its impact on their work, home, and community life. However it will also enable Cam-mind to launch a project designed to help employers tackle stress, anxiety and depression in the workplace. But what’s the difference between “normal” feelings of sadness and the feelings caused by depression.

Topics covered vary widely, from healthy self esteem in adolescence and signs of depression to resources for diagnosing mental health problems in children.

Problems about Mental Condition

Those with schizophrenia are particularly likely to face problems: 20% of women said they would break up with a partner who was diagnosed with the condition. The research team have also found that stress at work is associated with a 50 per cent excess risk of coronary heart disease, and there is consistent evidence that jobs with high demands, low control, and effort-reward imbalance are risk factors for mental and physical health problems (major depression, anxiety disorders, and substance use disorders).

The Mental Condition and Poverty Project called on the SAHRC to consider setting up a commission that will primarily focus on the needs of people with mental health problems. Even the best-trained psychiatrists do not necessarily have an internship in the problems of normal living. “What many people don’t realise is that we all have mental health – just as we have physical health – and that mental health problems can affect anyone, whatever their age or background.

Psychological therapies are based on talking and working with people to understand the causes and triggers of mental health problems and on developing practical strategies to deal with them.

Searching for Information

The first step is to reduce the stigma surrounding mental illnesses, using targeted public education activities that are designed to provide the public with factual information about mental illnesses and to suggest strategies for enhancing mental fitness, much like anti-smoking campaigns promote physical health.

It therefore makes good sense for people with HIV to have information about the ways in which HIV can affect their mental health and about common mental fitness issues such as depression, anxiety and emotional distress. This comprehensive information resource for child mental Condition and parenting information includes articles, resources, a glossary, an Ask the Expert section, a disorder guide, publications, and FAQs.

Offers useful information explaining educational evaluations, and also lists interventions that may be used to address various mental fitness conditions, including anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, bipolar disorder, ADHD, autism spectrum disorders, and more.

Mental Condition is more important than physical health. Mental fitness is more than the absence of mental disorders Mental health can be conceptualized as a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.

In this positive sense, mental health is the foundation for well-being and effective functioning for an individual and for a community.

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