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What is mental health?

Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being.  It affects how we think, act, and feel.  It also determines how we handle stress, relate to others, and make healthy choices.

Why is mental health important?

Mental health is just as important, if not more so, then physical health. It affects our quality of life at every stage of life, from childhood to adulthood. It determines how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Mental health is essential for leading a happy life. Here is a list of reasons why mental health is important:

  • Mental health plays a crucial role in relationships - poor mental health frequently results in conflicts with our friends and family because it frequently leads to passive-aggressiveness, hostility, and the incapacity to participate in social activities.

  • Mental health affects physical health - poor mental health induces stress and can affect our immune system, thus our bodies ability to cope with illnesses may be jeopardized.

  • Mental health is related to emotional well-being - a negative mind can make you feel down, irritated, and disturbed.

  • Mental health is connected to productivity - poor mental health makes it difficult to move about and stay active, which causes a drop in productivity.

  • Mental health affects the quality of life - an unhealthy mind causes us to lose interest in the things we once enjoyed.  It can lead to ups and downs and overwhelms us to a point where we cannot carry on with even the most basic tasks.


Is poor mental health and mental illness the same?

Although the terms are used interchangeably, mental illness and poor mental health are not the same. A person can experience poor mental health and not be diagnosed with a mental illness. Having continuous episodes of poor mental health could indicate a problem.

A mental illness is a condition that affects a person's thinking, feeling, behavior or mood. These conditions deeply impact day-to-day living and may also affect the ability to relate to others. Untreated mental health is often identified with a sense of hopelessness, sadness, worthlessness, guilt, anxiety, and fear.


How common are mental illnesses?

More children have mental illness than cancer diabetes, AIDS, and COVID-19 combined. Here are some statistics:

  • More than 50% of people will be diagnosed with a mental illness or disorder at some point in their lifetime.

  • 1 in 5 people will experience mental illness in a given year.

  • 1 in 6 youth aged 6-17 experience a mental health disorder each year.

  • 1 in 5 children, either currently or at some point during their life, have had a seriously debilitating mental illness.

  • 1 in 25 people live with a serious mental illness, such as autism, bipolar disorder, or major depression.


What causes mental illness?

There is no single cause for mental illness. A number of factors can contribute to the risk for mental illness, such as:

  • Adverse life experiences, such as abuse or trauma (including the prolonged period of isolation, such as COVID-19 quarantine).

  • Biological factors or chemical imbalances in the brain.

  • Use of alcohol or drugs.

  • Having feelings of loneliness or hopelessness.


Can we improve our mental well-being?

Yes. Take time out to protect your mental well-being by:

  • Getting enough rest.

  • Spending time in nature.

  • Making time for yourself, family and friends.

  • Allocating less screen time.

  • Exercising regularly.

  • Limit your intake of alcohol and avoiding cigarettes and other drugs.


How can I take a mental health assessment?

If you are concerned with your mental health or think that you need support, take this mental health assessment.

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