What is mental health?
The World Health Organisation (2022) defines mental health as ‘a state of mental wellbeing that enables people to cope with the stresses of life, realise their abilities, learn well and work well, and contribute to their community. It is an integral component of health and wellbeing that underpins our individual and collective abilities to make decisions, build relationships and shape the world we live in.’
Enjoying good mental health and general wellbeing helps us to deal with the stresses of everyday life. However, 1 in 4 people are affected by a mental health problem each year and 1 in 6 in England are affected by common mental health issues such as anxiety and depression in any given week.
Finding out more about some of the mental health problems people might face could help you to feel more confident when trying to support someone.
Mental Health Conditions
There are a variety of mental health issues that a person can experience. Mind website provides further details on the following issues:
- Anxiety and panic attacks happen when someone has feelings of anxiety that are very strong or last for a long time.
- Bipolar disorder is characterised by the experience of swings between a low, depressive mood and a high, manic mood, usually with more neutral phases in between.
- Depression is characterised by the persistence of feelings of sadness or misery.
- Eating problems can occur when someone has a difficult and unhealthy relationship with food, and often coexist with depression or anxiety disorders.
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder where unwanted thoughts, urges and repetitive activities become an obstacle to the person's ability to live life as they would like.
- Personality disorders occur when a person's personality traits cause regular, long-term problems in their relationships and the way they cope with life.
- Schizophrenia is a mental illness that can occur when someone experiences psychosis, with symptoms such as delusions, hallucinations, disorganised thinking, and diminished attachment to reality, leading to disruption in social, emotional, and practical functioning.
The World Health Organisation’s definition of mental health moves beyond simply the absence of mental illness, but includes the presence of emotional, psychological and social wellbeing. People who enjoy high levels of wellbeing are described as flourishing. In this context, flourishing means that the person enjoys feelings of happiness, contentment and curiosity and is able to engage fully with what is going on around them. Flourishing also means functioning well in the world; the person experiences positive relationships, has some control over their life, and has a sense of purpose.
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