Mental Health Made Simple: What Is Mental Health?
With “Mental health” being a very hot topic for a few years now, it is time to brush up on the basics around mental health. Mental health is simply the health of your mind. It is the emotional, social, and psychological well-being of an individual. And the fact that it is overlooked many times, is because it is intangible i.e it can not be seen. A person might be extremely anxious but you can see them carrying out their daily work in an ordinary manner and it might be difficult to suspect an underlying problem. Denying the presence of a mental health issue is primarily due to the stigma that surrounds the topic.
Our mental health affects how we think, feel and behave. Suppose Y is feeling sad, she is bound to think more/think nothing at all, sleep more/less, or talk less to others, depending on her personality among other factors. And she will behave differently when she is happy. That being said, the behaviour of a person usually changes if they are suffering from a mental health issue. Our mental health also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices in life. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.
Everyone is prone to experiencing a mental health issue at some point in their lives. It can range from the simple anxiety that you might be facing because you have been worried about your result or a full-blown Generalised Anxiety Disorder. Nonetheless, both of these issues require your attention since mental health issues usually do not solve on their own.
While anyone can develop mental health disorders, some factors that are closely associated include- biological factors (brain chemistry), surviving a traumatic incident (sexual abuse/ near-death accident), experiencing overwhelming stress ( illness of a loved one), and older age, and cultural factors. Gender and sexuality too play a role in vulnerability. Women are more likely to be diagnosed with internalizing disorders like depression, and anxiety, while males are at a higher risk of developing externalizing disorders like antisocial personality disorder, and substance abuse disorder. People of the LGBTQ Community too are more prone to psychological disorders such as depression, alcohol, and drug abuse, suicidal thoughts, etc.
What are a few warning signs of Mental Health Issues?
If you are not sure that you or someone you know is living with mental health problems, you can have a look at the following feelings or behaviours. Experiencing one or more of them can be an early warning sign of a problem.
- Eating or sleeping too much or too little
- Pulling away from people and usual activities
- Having low or no energy
- Feeling numb or like nothing matters
- Having unexplained aches and pains
- Feeling helpless or hopeless
- Smoking, drinking, or using drugs more than usual
- Feeling unusually confused, forgetful, on edge, angry, upset, worried, or scared
- Yelling or fighting with family and friends
- Experiencing severe mood swings that cause problems in relationships
- Having persistent thoughts and memories you can't get out of your head
- Hearing voices or believing things that are not true
- Thinking of harming yourself or others
- Inability to perform daily tasks like taking care of your kids or getting to work or school
If you find someone experiencing these issues, you can seek professional help.
A WORD FROM SOCIALLY SOULED
Mental Health is a term that is often misrepresented and misused by many people, and it is time we all start a healthy conversation around mental health. Having basic knowledge about it can help us prevent and manage mental health conditions.