Mental health is a state of well-being where an individual is able to function optimally, handle stress, and engage in positive relationships. It is influenced by a range of factors, including genetics and environment, and influences cognition, perception and behavior.
The World Health Organization defines mental health as “a state of emotional, social and psychological well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to contribute to her or his community.”
It is the goal of all health wellbeing care to improve an individual’s sense of self and well-being by helping people achieve a more positive change in their feelings, mood, thoughts and actions. It is different from medical health because it focuses on changes in the patient’s “self” rather than on the restoration of dysfunctional physical mechanisms or treatment of diseases.
Mental disorders are health conditions that involve a wide variety of mental, emotional and behavioral symptoms. They are characterized by disturbances in the mind that are not caused by physical illness and are treatable with the help of a doctor or psychiatrist.
There are many types of mental health issues, from mild to serious, and they can affect a person at any age. Most are treatable and reversible.
Common types of mental health issues include anxiety, depression and substance use disorder. Anxiety disorders are the most commonly diagnosed type of mental health issue, affecting an estimated 49% of adolescents and adults.
Anxiety disorders occur when an individual experiences excessive or unreasonable worry about everyday things. They can also cause an individual to have trouble sleeping, eating and concentrating.
Depression is a common mental health problem, occurring in an estimated 40% of adults. It can be characterized by sadness, lack of energy, difficulty thinking clearly or making decisions, and a loss of interest in daily activities.
Psychotic disorders are a group of mental health problems that are characterized by severe disturbances in thought and feelings, such as delusions, hallucinations and psychotic episodes. They can be accompanied by disorganized thought and memory and are treatable with medication.
These illnesses can be difficult to diagnose and may require a combination of clinical testing, interviewing and observation in a clinical setting. They can be treatable with psychotherapy or medication, depending on the type of diagnosis.
The most widely used mental health manuals are the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) and the International Classification of Diseases (ICD). Both have developed a standardized list of criteria for diagnosing these disorders.
Several other systems of classification exist in addition to the DSM and ICD. They range from more general spectrum or continuum models to more specific dimensional approaches.
Some dimensional models distinguish between internalizing and externalizing symptoms, or even between thought disorders and emotional or behavioral disorders. Other models suggest that mental illnesses are linked to neurodevelopmental processes shaped by experience and genetics.
During the current pandemic, mental health and well-being of adults has become an increasing concern for many people, especially young adults. This includes those who have had a family member diagnosed with coronavirus or other mental health issues, or those whose lives have been significantly disrupted by the pandemic.