The Importance of Mental Health

Updated: Dec 15, 2020

Written by Navi Arri

Just as we are urged to take care of our bodies, we should be taking care of our minds as well. Preserving our physical bodies is a genuine effort. The inherent need to take care of oneself protects individuals after injury and maintains healthy habits such as eating well and exercising. However, the need to protect oneself applies to mental health as well. The health of one's mind is just as important as their body and should be treated as such.

What Is Mental Health?

Identifying when one's mental health needs attention is much more complicated than their physical health. We can quickly recognize when our body needs to be taken care of because our mind alerts us with physical pain. But how can we identify when it is time to take care of the mind when such a warning is not given? Understanding mental health allows one to do this. Mental health is a person's psychological, emotional, and social well-being. It affects various aspects of life, including how one relates and interacts with others, handles stress, makes choices, and functions throughout the day.

Why Should You Care About Your Mental Health?

Every human has a brain, so regardless of age or background, they should care for their minds. Caring for one's mental health allows them to cope with life's stresses, work productively, make meaningful connections and contributions to society, and work to their full potential. However, if one does not regularly practice self-care to look after one's mental health, it can open gateways to various mental illnesses, disorders, or bodily damage.

What Happens When You Don’t Care For Your Mental Health?

As one goes through life, they face many experiences and life events that negatively affect their mental health. To get through such, many use various coping mechanisms, which may include humor, physical activity, relaxation, support systems, and more. However, when one does not properly cope with these unexpected life events, it can lead to mental health disorders and illnesses. These disorders and illnesses can be caused by genetics, emotional trauma, or one’s overall brain chemistry.

What Exactly Is A Mental Illness/Disorder?

Mental illnesses or disorders are conditions that may negatively affect one's mood, feelings, thinking, and behavior. They may only last for a bit or be life-long. There are many types of illnesses and disorders, including anxiety, mood, eating, personality, and psychotic disorders. Examples of anxiety disorders are anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and panic disorder. Mood disorders may include depression, bipolar disorder, and dysthymia. Eating disorders include anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder. As we look at personality disorders, we see borderline personality disorder, narcissistic personality disorder, schizoid disorder, and schizotypal disorder. Lastly, psychotic disorders include schizophrenia and psychosis.

How Can I Know If I Have A Mental Illness/Disorder?

Mental illnesses are quite common, as almost 50% of people in the United States will be diagnosed with a mental disorder once in their lifetime, 1 in 5 Americans will experience a mental illness in a given year, and 1 in 25 Americans live with severe forms of them. Children can also be affected by poor mental health as 1 in 5 children either currently have or will have a mental illness at some point in their lifetime. To receive a proper diagnosis, one would have to consult a psychologist for a psychological evaluation or see a doctor regarding their medical history.

How Can I Get Treatment If I Have A Mental Illness/Disorder?

After being diagnosed by a professional, a doctor will provide their patient with a treatment plan. Following one's treatment plan will allow them to deal with their mental illness in the best way possible and improve their mental health. A person's mental health is not consistent; it will be easier to deal with on some days and harder on others. On the more difficult days, using the coping strategies previously mentioned may positively affect one's mental health. Mental health is equally important to an individual's well-being as physical health and should not be disregarded in favor of good physical fitness.

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