What is Mental Health?

This article will provide an overview of mental health and will be followed by a series of articles exploring some of the more common disorders including PTSD, isolation, abuse, and addiction. Several online sources were used to compile this information including John Hopkins Medicine, mentalhealth.gov, medicalnewstoday.com and CDC.

According to the World Health Organization “Mental health is a state of well-being in which an individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and is able to make a contribution to his or her community”.

The WHO stress that mental health is “more than just the absence of mental disorders or disabilities”. People sometimes use the term mental health to mean the absence of a disorder but it’s more than that. Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.

Many factors contribute to compromised mental health including:

Biological factors, such as genes or brain chemistry

Life experiences such as trauma or abuse

Family history of mental health problems.

The following are the latest statistics available at the Institute of Mental Health Disorders, part of the National Institute of Health. An estimated 26% of Americans ages 18 and older – about 1 in 4 adults – suffers from a diagnosable mental disorder in any given year.

While major depression can develop at any age, the average age at onset is the mid-20s.

With bipolar disorder the average age at onset for a manic episode is during the 20s.

Women are nearly twice as likely then men to suffer from major depression.

People who commit suicide have a mental health disorder.

Suicide is one of the leading causes of death in ages 15 to 24.

Four times as many met than women commit suicide, but women attempt it more often.

The highest suicide rate in the U.S. is found in Caucasian men over 85.

About 18% of people ages 18 to 54 have an anxiety disorder in any given year. This includes   panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), and  phobias.

Mental disorders may be acute, meaning they come on quickly and will, with time and maybe counseling, eventually go away. Chronic conditions develop slowing and may worsen over an extended period of time – months to years. A chronic condition doesn’t heal on its own and needs outside help.

Early Warning Signs to Look for in Friends, Family or even Yourself

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.

Recovery is Possible

Most people with mental health problems can get better. Treatment and recovery are ongoing processes that happen over time. The first step is getting help. The Beacon of Hope can assist in finding mental health professionals who can guide people in their assessment and treatment. Call the Beacon 239-283-5123 or visit us at 5090 Doug Taylor Circle. In the industrial park. All support provided is confidential.

Please follow this series where we will explore some common mental health issues and how you can get help or support friends or family who are facing these challenges.