Mental health is defined by the World Health Organization as a state of well-being in which the individual:
A healthy person has a healthy mind and is able to:
Mental health is vital for individuals, families and communities, and is more than just the absence of mental disorder. To be a healthy person we need to have both mental and physical health, and these are related to each other. Mental health provides individuals with the energy for active living, achieving goals and interacting with people in a fair and respectful way.
Mental disorders can affect both men and women, and can affect people from different age groups including the young and the elderly.
Mental disorders are common – about one in five adults experience a mental disorder at some stage in their life.
Most people suffering from a mental disorder look the same as everyone else. It’s not always possible to tell that someone is experiencing a mental disorder just by looking at the person.
Mental disorder include a variety of different conditions ranging from more common problems such as excessive fear and worry (anxiety) or usually sad mood (depression), to more severe behavioral problems that can involve suspiciousness, violence, agitation and other unusual behaviors (psychosis).
Mental disorders are more than just the experience of stress. Although stressful life events often contribute to the development of mental disorders, stress itself is not considered to be a mental disorder.
While seizures, epilepsy, and intellectual disability (Mental retardation) are all conditions that affect the brain, these are not actually classified as mental disorders.
A mental disorder can be a brief episode or it may be a long-tearm persistent condition.
When a family member has a mental disorder, that family is often socially and economically disadvantaged.
Communities often have many false beliefs about mental disorders, including what they are, what causes them, and how to respond to a person experiencing a mental disorder.
There are effective and affordable treatments for most mental disorders.
Appropriate treatment can help improve the quality of life for most people experiencing mental disorders and their families.
Some people may be more vulnerable to mental disorders than others but may not develop an illness until they are exposed to stressful life events.
Biological factors can include genetics, brain injury, and chemical imbalance in the brain.
Sometimes people experiencing chronic medical problems such as heart, kidney and liver failure, and diabetes may develop mental health problems such as depression, as living with a chronic illness can be very stressful.
Stressful life events can contribute to the development of mental disorders e.g. family conflicts, unemployment, death of a loved one, money problems, infertility and violence. A lot of stress may also contribute to an imbalance of chemicals in the brain.
Difficulties in childhood such as sexual or physical violence, emotional neglect, or early death of parent can sometimes lead to a mental disorder later in life.
Unhealthy behaviors such as drug and alcohol abuse can lead to the development of a mental disorder as well as being the result of a mental disorder.
Poverty can place a person at risk of mental disorders because of the stresses associated with low levels of education, poor housing and low income. Mental disorders are also more difficult to cope with in condition of poverty.
You can not always tell just by looking at a person whether or not they have a mental disorder. The symptoms of mental disorders can be physical or psychological.
Are those that involve the physical functioning of the body e.g. aches and pains, weakness, tiredness, sleep disturbance, and increased or decreased appetite.
Are those that involve the mental functioning of the body.
Some of the symptoms associated with mental disorders, such as feeling of sadness and worrying a lot, affect everybody from time to time. These symptoms only become a mental disorder when they are excessive and prevent the person from leading a normal life. Other symptoms such as hearing voices are nearly always a symptoms of mental disorder.
The different types of symptoms are closely related to each other for example, hearing voices saying that others are going to harm you can lead to aggression due to fear. Experiencing the symptoms of mental disorders does not mean the individual is weak or lazy, possessed by supernatural forces, or losing his/her mind.
People with common mental disorders usually experience physical, emotional, thinking and behavior symptoms, but not imaging symptoms. Some people may get treatment for physical problems associated with there illness (like poor sleep or appetite) but neglect the cause of these physical problems such as underlying depression or anxiety. People with common mental disorders are often not treated because it is more difficult for family members and health workers to recognize that they are suffering from a mental disorder.
The main common mental disorders are:
(1) Usually sad mood that does not go away (depression) is a mental disorder when the symptoms last for at least two weeks and they affect the person’s ability to carry out his/her work or have satisfying personal relationships. Everyone can feel sad when bad things happen, occasional sadness is not depression. The symptoms of depression include unusually sad mood, and all or some of the following:
Not every person who is depressed has all these symptoms, and the severity of depression is different for different people. Events that contribute to the development of an unusually sad mood include:
(2) Excessive fear, nervousness and worry (anxiety) is a mental disorder that is more severe and longer lasting than everyday worries. It interferes with a person’s ability to carry out his/her work or having satisfying personal relationships. Symptoms include unrealistic or excessive fear and worry, and one all of the following:
There are many types of anxiety disorders ranging from mild uneasiness to panic attacks:
(3) Excessive use of alcohol and other drugs (substance abuse): This is one of the most common mental disorders. Using alcohol or drugs does not mean that a person has a mental disorder, but it does become a disorder when the alcohol or drug use harms the person’s physical, mental or social health. Excessive use can result in:
People with alcohol and drug problems often have other underlying mental health problems and use alcohol or drugs as a type of self medication for feelings of excessive worry or sadness.
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