WHAT IS MENTAL HEALTH?

Without a doubt, everyone has both heard and spoken about Mental Health at least once in their life. It is an expression we use regularly, so it may come as a surprise to you that the term ’Mental Health’ is indeed, frequently misunderstood. Very often, people think they’re talking about ‘Mental Health’ when referring to depression, anxiety, bipolar condition, etc. but, in fact, they are using this term as a substitute for ‘Mental Health Conditions’, like the ones mentioned previously. In definition, mental health is “a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.”

Now you know that mental health instead of being about the negative impacts life throws our way, is how we manage to keep living mentally healthy and contentedly. Mental health is about wellness rather than illness, so, the correct question to regard mental health with is, ‘’What’s going well?’’. 

You may think mental health is not very important in our daily life, but actually, it includes a variety of important things that make up who we are: our emotional, psychological and social well-being. Even further, it affects how we think, feel and act. Our mental health is the engine that keeps us walking on the right path; determining how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Just because you’re an adult, doesn’t mean your mental health is less important that when you were a child or a toddler. It defines who we are at every stage of life, who we want to be, and who we feel we are. 

Experiencing mental health problems affect your thinking, mood, and behavior. You shouldn’t ignore these problems because later, all this stigma could damage you. Many factors contribute to these problems, like for example life experiences that are forever etched on your mind, such as trauma or abuse, or family history of mental health problems that could be affecting you too.

Let’s go a couple of centuries back to Europe; to the early history of mental health, more precisely, mental illness. Many cultures viewed the mentally ill as dangerous creatures, reaching the extent of being called witches and treated extremely poor. Others view this as a form of religious punishment or demonic possession, and in the Middle Ages, they were not granted their freedom if shown as threatening. In ancient Egyptian, Indian, Greek, and Roman writings, mental illness was seen as more than an illness, it perceived as a religious or personal problem. 

In the 1600s, the treatment toward these people became inhuman and insensible. Europeans began to isolate them, chaining them to walls or keeping them in dungeons, and more than often, housed with the disabled and delinquents. 

Concern over the mentally ill increased in the 1800s, with the establishment of 32 state hospitals for the mentally ill by U.S. reformer, Dorothea Dix. At that time, people expected these hospitals and humane treatment to cure the mentally ill, but evidently it didn’t. Later, German psychiatrist, Emil Kraepelin, started to study and investigate mental illness. He managed to separate manic-depressive psychosis from schizophrenia, which remains to this day. 

Nowadays, new psychiatric methods and medications that work successfully with mental illness have been introduced. Mental hospitals still exist, but very few people remain there for long periods of time due to lack of funding, but mostly because they can be treated in the community. 

Achieving the best possible mental health can help you maximize your learning, creative and productive skills, have positive social relationships, and improve your physical health and life expectancy. It is very important to understand that just because someone is not experiencing a mental health condition doesn’t mean their mental health is thriving, and likewise. Being a part of your community and having healthy personal relationships can contribute to people’s recovery from mental health conditions. 

Now that you understand the significance of mental health, remember to always use your best efforts to achieve a flourishing mental health. Take pride in your accomplishments and avoid the stigma that life sometimes throws your way. Keep your head high and never lose your path; because having a good mental health, means having a wholesome life. 

Sources:

http://broughttolife.sciencemuseum.org.uk/broughttolife/themes/menalhealthandillness

https://www.healthyplace.com/other-info/mental-illness-overview/the-history-of-mental-illness

http://www.uniteforsight.org/mental-health/module2

https://www.mentalhealth.gov/basics/what-is-mental-health

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