Mental Health

What is Mental Health?

Positive mental health means finding that balance in all parts of your life: social, physical, spiritual, emotional, financial, and mental. When this balance is upset or changed it can often be a challenge to find that healthy balance again.

What is Mental Illness?

Mental illness is a term that covers many mental health issues. A mental health problem might also be called a mental disorder, poor mental health, a nervous breakdown, burnout, or a psychiatric illness to name a few.

Mental health problems are health conditions. There are often changes in thinking, mood, and/or behaviour (or a combination of these). The person may be distressed and/or have impaired functioning. For example, the person may have trouble going to work, communicate or doing daily activities like getting up or going to a shop to fetch something.

Mental health problems can cause a big change in the way a person thinks, their emotions, the way they act, and their ability to work and carry on with their usual relationships.

What are the more common types of mental illnesses or mental health problems?

Although there are many types of mental health problems, some of them are depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, anxiety to name a few

Depression affects at some point in our lives. Depression is often seen with other mental health problems and with physical illnesses like heart disease, stroke, and physical disabilities.

Schizophrenia and bipolar disorder (manic depression) are less common but can have a huge affect to the quality of life of people living with these illnesses.

What causes mental illness?

There is no one cause of mental illness or mental health problems. It is most likely several factors coming together. For example, we are learning that many of the major mental illnesses involve chemical imbalances in the body.

Mental health problems are:

  • biological: linked with problems with chemistry in the brain or other body system
  • psychological: linked with issues with thought or emotion
  • social: linked with life events and stresses

Mental health professionals look at all three of these when they design a plan for dealing with the problem or illness.

According to research, biological factors that may affect whether someone becomes seriously mentally ill include:

  • damage done before birth
  • birth trauma
  • viral infection
  • brain chemistry

Genetics may play a part, too. Studies show that close relatives of someone with schizophrenia or an affective disorder (like bipolar disorder) are much more likely to have the same illness. However, people don’t inherit the illness itself. They just inherit the tendency to get it.

Psychological and social factors could include:

  • lack of support from relationships
  • child abuse
  • family violence
  • unemployment
  • major changes in life
  • Death of closed one
  • Loss