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What Is Mental Health? Definition, Resources & Clear Understanding.

As shown in the Google Trends graph below, the term "mental health" has become increasingly popular in recent years, reaching a peak in 2023. This suggests that people are more aware of the importance of mental health and are taking it more seriously.


However, the term "mental health" is often used loosely to refer to someone's general emotional state.


It is important to be clear about the distinction between everyday mental health, which refers to how someone is feeling overall, and clinical mental health, which refers to a mental health condition that significantly affects a person's daily functioning.


The goal of this blog post is to discuss the difference between everyday mental health and clinical mental health & to provide resources for people who are struggling with their mental health.


If people are to universally take mental health seriously, it's important to be clear about what the definition of mental health is.

Definition of Mental Health

The definition of mental health is a state of well-being in which a person has psychological, emotional, & social indicators as reflective of their mental health status.


A baseline mental health status is when one realizes their abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and can contribute to his or her community.


Mental health is not just the absence of mental illness. It is a state of well-being that allows us to:

  • Think clearly and make good decisions

  • Feel good about ourselves and others

  • Handle stress and challenges

  • Build and maintain healthy relationships

  • Work productively and creatively

  • Having a positive outlook on life

When one or numerous aforementioned factors have a negative observable affect, it could be indicative of how a person is doing & ought to resolve any issues before the impact on someone's life becomes greater.


Brief History of Mental Health

The concept of mental health has evolved. In ancient times, mental illness was often seen as a sign of possession by evil spirits. In the Middle Ages, people with mental illness were often locked away in asylums.


In the 20th century, there was a growing understanding of mental illness as a medical condition. Today, we have a much better understanding of mental health and the factors that contribute to it.


Despite the greater acceptance & regulation of the mental health industry, there's still a stigma around mental health. Mental health is often associated with people's poor health & financial status.


Stigma is a judgment on a person's well-being, behavior, or mental status. There are many reasons why stigma exists like cultural considerations, media representations, & a question of one's mental fortitude.


Stigma is damaging because it diminishes the significance of the struggles one faces to their mental health status.


All of these reasons & more make it difficult for people to seek care, get the most out of treatment, & be open to sharing their struggles with friends, families, & even providers.


This subheading is important because my next few points will be about everyday mental health versus clinical mental health.


Everyday Mental Health Versus Clinical Mental Health

Let's be clear on very specific things before we start this section.


First off, it is entirely okay & acceptable to have bad days. Not every day is going to be perfect. It would be unrealistic if our mood is a 10/10 every day of the year for the rest of our lives.


Second, if things are not going our way should the world all of a sudden just pause whatever it is doing to accommodate us? This is also unrealistic. The point is that life goes on & you shouldn't let your struggles deprive you of both joy & responsibilities that are to be maintained.


Third, one's struggles should not be diminished or dismissed based on the subjectivity of or any found stigma that appears to be oppressing. The internal battles people face are valid & should be explored regardless.


These points are important to make because it is great there is wider acceptance & understanding of mental health, There needs to be a line drawn before people become victims of catastrophizing small things.


These points were made to differentiate the everyday mental health people will experience throughout their day & clinical mental health where one's activities of daily living are consequently disrupted because of their mental health status.

Stigma is damaging because it diminishes the significance of the struggles one faces to their mental health status.
  • Everyday mental health refers to how someone is feeling overall, emotionally & mentally. It includes their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Everyday mental health can fluctuate from day to day, depending on a variety of factors, such as stress, sleep, lifestyle, fulfillment, & relationships.

  • Clinical mental health refers to a mental health condition that significantly affects a person's daily functioning for prolonged periods. It can cause significant distress and impairment in a person's ability to work, study, socialize, and enjoy life. Clinical mental health conditions are often diagnosed by a mental health professional, such as a psychiatrist or psychologist.

Here are some examples of everyday mental health challenges:

  • Feeling stressed or anxious

  • Feeling sad or down

  • Having trouble sleeping

  • Feeling overwhelmed or exhausted

  • Having difficulty concentrating or making decisions

These are normal challenges every person faces & A lot of these feelings are either situational based on events (arguments, job loss, break-up, triggers, etc.) or lifestyle choices (nutrition, sleep, active vs. inactive, etc.) we make.


Here are some examples of clinical mental health conditions:

  • Depression

  • Anxiety disorders

  • Bipolar disorder

  • Schizophrenia

  • Eating disorders

  • Personality disorders

  • Substance abuse disorders

These are cases in which an individual livelihood is at stake as both their mental as much as even their physical health are at risk.


It is important to remember that everyone experiences everyday mental health challenges from time to time.


However, if you are struggling with these challenges regularly, or if they are interfering with your daily life, it is important to seek professional help. A mental health professional can help you identify the cause of your challenges and develop a treatment plan to improve your mental health.


Mental Health Factors & Coping Strategies.

Mental health problems can have a significant impact on a person's ability to work, study, and maintain relationships.


Many factors can contribute to mental health problems, including:

  • Genetics

  • Brain chemistry

  • Life experiences, such as trauma or abuse

  • Stress

  • Substance abuse

Many things can be done to improve mental health, including:

  • Getting regular exercise

  • Eating a healthy diet

  • Getting enough sleep

  • Reducing stress

  • Spending time with loved ones

  • Practicing relaxation techniques

  • Seeking professional help if needed

A lot of what was mentioned is actionable with encounters with mental resilience taking place to avoid changes, even if they are positive.


Seeking professional help is a little more involved as healing is more of a back & forward process rather than an overnight one-and-done solution.


If you are concerned about your mental health, it is important to talk to a doctor or mental health professional. They can help you assess your mental health and develop a treatment plan.


Conclusion

Mental health is an important part of overall health. Without it, we'd be screaming at the walls all day long hoping it would respond.


Everyday mental health should always be observed & catastrophizing ought to be avoided

By taking care of our mental health, we can live happier, healthier, and more fulfilling lives.


Here are some additional resources for learning more about mental health:

If you are in crisis, please reach out for help:

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255

  • Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741741

  • Trevor Project: 1-866-488-7386


You are not alone. There is help available.



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Disclaimer: This blog post is intended for educational purposes only, it is important for readers to be mindful of all information presented & have their own due diligence. Review our full disclaimer policy here.


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References:

-Felman, A. (2020, April 14). What is mental health? Medicalnewstoday.com; Medical News Today. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/154543

-Ferguson, S., & Waters, O. (2023, April). Catastrophizing: What You Need to Know to Stop Worrying. Healthline; Healthline Media. https://www.healthline.com/health/anxiety/catastrophizing

-National Institute of Mental Health. (2022). Caring for Your Mental Health. National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/caring-for-your-mental-health

-Pathlight Mood & Anxiety Center. (2020, October 21). Top Mental Health Self-Care Tips for Men | Pathlight Mood & Anxiety Center. Pathlight Mood & Anxiety Center. https://www.pathlightbh.com/blog/top-mental-health-self-care-tips-men

‌-Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration. (2023). What is Mental Health? Samhsa.gov. https://www.samhsa.gov/mental-health

-The Lancet. (2016). The health crisis of mental health stigma. The Lancet, 387(10023), 1027–1027. https://doi.org/10.1016/s0140-6736(16)00687-5

-World Health Organization. (2022, June 17). Mental health. Who.int; World Health Organization: WHO. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/mental-health-strengthening-our-response

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