What is mental health?
The World Health Organisation (2014) defines mental health as ‘a unified state of mental, physical and social well-being, where a person can achieve their potential, is able to effectively contribute to the community, and can handle the stresses of normal life’.
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 in any year. 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 Problems
There are a variety of mental health problems that a person can experience. The Time to Change website provides further details on the following issues:
Anxiety disorders happen when someone has feelings of anxiety that are very strong or last for a long time. Find out more about anxiety disorders and read blogs about anxiety.
- Bipolar disorder is characterised by the experience of swings between a low mood and a high, manic mood, usually with more normal phases in between. Find out more about bipolar disorder and read blogs and personal stories.
- Depression is characterised by the persistence of feelings of sadness or misery. Find out more about depression and read blogs and personal stories.
- Eating disorders can occur when someone has a difficult and unhealthy relationship with food, and often coexist with depression or anxiety disorders. Find out more about eating disorders and read blogs and personal stories.
- 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 want. Find out more about obsessive-compulsive disorder and read personal stories.
- Personality disorders such as Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) occur when a person's personality traits cause regular, long-term problems in the way they cope with life. Find out more about personality disorders and read personal stories.
- Schizophrenia is a mental illness that occurs when the parts of the brain that are responsible for emotion and sensation stop functioning properly. Find out more about schizophrenia and read personal stories.
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.
Find out more:
- Bath Spa University’s Student Wellbeing Services provides further information on mental health.
- Time to Change is a growing movement that exists to transform how we all think and act about mental health problems.
- Rethink Mental illness provides further information on the types of mental health problems people might face.