The term “mental health” has certainly become more prominent in today’s public discourse. However, for many, this term is either misunderstood, misused, or even used to misinform others. The “recklessness” that now surrounds the term is one of the reasons why mental health should be more distinctly defined for discussion.
Indeed, the more prominent highlights of mental health in the public sphere have decreased some of the stigmas that have long been associated with it. Now, it is time to utilize that destigmatization to better inform the greater public on the issues of mental health.
For many, issues of mental health are not merely talking points. They struggle with these issues on a daily basis. Unfortunately, some of these people will not get the proper care (or any care at all) due to the lack of access to mental health information and resources.
Defining Mental Health
What is the definition of mental health? The truth is that there is no complete consensus in the mental health industry, and many consider this a problem. According to a study published in the medical research journal BMJ Open, “Understanding the history and evolution of the concept of mental health is essential to understanding the problems it was intended to solve and what it may be used for in the future.”
However, while there is not a fully mutual agreement on the exact definition of mental health, there is an agreement on the importance of delineating the concept of mental health from that of mental health disorders.
Referring back to the previous study, much of the industry does agree that “Mental health can be defined as the absence of mental disease or it can be defined as a state of being that also includes the biological, psychological or social factors which contribute to an individual’s mental state and ability to function within the environment.” Notice the focus on “absence of mental disease.”
Understanding Mental Health vs. Mental Health Disorders
According to the latest release in 2020 on mental health statistics by the National Alliance on Mental Health, “21% of U.S. adults experienced mental illness in 2020 (52.9 million people). This represents 1 in 5 adults,” yet only “46.2% of U.S. adults with mental illness received treatment in 2020.” That’s less than half of the people that need help actually receiving it.
One way of differentiating between mental health and mental health disorders is via one’s ability to control their symptoms. For example, when someone is struggling with mental health, they may be able to utilize practices outside of the medical or therapeutic realm to redirect their behavior and stabilize their mental well-being.
When someone is struggling with a mental health disorder, their symptoms are, for the most part, out of their control. Generally, mental health conditions fall under a number of disordered categories; however, not all of it does this. These disorders include, but are not limited to:
- Major depression disorder
- Alcohol and/or substance use disorder (SUD)
- Dissociative disorders
- Anxiety disorders
- Bipolar disorder
- Personality disorders
However, while mental health disorders should certainly be treated with outside help, that should not exclude those struggling with their mental health from getting help as well.
Better Mental Health Treatment
When issues of mental health arise that don’t meet the criteria of a mental health disorder, there is a tendency to minimize its effects. This is unfortunate because, for those struggling with their mental health, their lives can be just as disrupted as those with a diagnosed disorder.
There are several ways to treat those struggling with their mental health. Individual therapies, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, can help manage emotions by reframing the behaviors that are associated with them. Group therapy is also help for for these individuals and gives them a place to where individuals struggling with their mental health can share their experiences and relate to other people experiencing the same situations.
Individuals struggling with their mental health can also make individual changes to better maintain their mental health. While these may seem basic to some, getting proper sleep, adequate exercise, and utilizing a nutritious diet can go a long way in propping up our mental health. Let us not forget that external and internal health correlate greatly.
Better Mental Health Management
When it comes to mental health, there is no “finish line.” Maintaining a suitable mental health status is about the journey rather than the destination. It is about continued growth rather than an end result.
Maintaining a strong program of positive mental health practices can be crucial when those inevitable hard times in life appear. There may be times of family illness, financial instability, or even death when our mental health is tested. However, with a practiced focus on our mental health, these occurrences don’t have to be debilitating or long-term.
Understanding our mental health can greatly free us up to live life on a healthier plane. By understanding our mental health, we better understand ourselves, and when we better understand ourselves, we begin to better understand how we fit into the world around us.
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The topic and discussion of mental health have gone through quite a transformation in recent years. Mental health went from a topic once stigmatized, overlooked, and disregarded to a subject that has become a mainstream discussion. While this is a positive thing, it also has its negative effects. For one, its prominence in public discussion has created excess room for disinformation and misinformation. It has also become misconstrued and misperceived. This is why it is so critical to gain a better understanding of what mental health actually means. With a better understanding of mental health comes a better understanding of how to care for it. For more information, on how to manage your mental health, contact The Phoenix Recovery Center at (801) 438-3185.