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Mental Health: Feeling Fit

Have You Ever?

Have you ever experienced physical discomfort when having negative emotions? Maybe an important test has you so worried that you feel overwhelmed while reviewing and too stressed to fall asleep at night. Or before you play a football game, nervousness and excitement surround you, and you can feel your breath shortening and hear your heartbeat accelerating. People can have physical symptoms, such as nausea and dizziness, under pressure and anxiety. These are normal emotional and physical changes we experience every day, and the two interact with each other in response to different situations. 

Here’s Why

Our health is not exclusively dependent on physical health.  According to the World Health Organization (WHO), a healthy state encompasses physical, mental, and social wellness. Mental health is made up of a person’s thoughts, feelings, moods, and emotions. Yet, being mentally healthy is not about always being positive and happy. Feeling upset, angry, and stressed is a normal result of having emotions. However, these negative emotions can sometimes linger, feed into themselves, and develop into mental health disorders, which harm an individual’s wellness. 

Mental Health

Mental health is a crucial component of an individual’s state of wellbeing, which is not merely the absence of mental illness and disorder. It includes the ability to correctly understand oneself, cope with normal life pressures and negative feelings, maintain productive work and a good social network, and make contributions to their community.

How It Works

There are a multitude of social, financial, psychological, and biological factors that shape a person’s mental health. Common social and financial factors are an individual’s living conditions, social stability, and social involvement. And psychological factors, such as personality and past trauma experience, along with biological factors, such as heredity and brain chemistry, determine how those social and financial situations affect a person.

Mental health disorders can occur at any age, with a high probability of postnatal development and a low proportion of congenital carrying. They are generally characterized by a combination of abnormal thoughts, perceptions, emotions, behavior, and relationships with others.  The most common mental disorder is clinical depression, which is characterized by persistent loss of interest in everything in daily life. Anxiety disorders, which is when excessive fear and worry interfere with daily activities, are also fairly common. There’s also bipolar disorder, which presents as extreme mood swings ranging from excessive depression to mania.  Globally, there are nearly four billion people affected by these and other kinds of mental disorders, and the number of patients at different ages is increasing every year.

Usually, negative feelings only last for a short time, maybe a couple of days, and there are many good practices to help regulate bad emotions and ensure mental wellness. For example, sharing your feelings with someone you trust, writing journals, eating well, and regular exercises are excellent ways for people to stay mentally healthy. Take some time to relax by engaging in your hobbies and interests. But if you feel down constantly, can’t stop excessively worrying, or are plagued incessantly by suicidal thinking for at least two weeks or even a month, then it is no longer a healthy reaction, and a professional should be consulted. 

Why Care?

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), nearly one in five U.S. adults live with mental illness. Globally, depression affects an estimated 264 million people and is one of the leading causes of illness and disabilities, especially among adolescents. Mental health promotion and mental disorder prevention are in great demand. 

However, compared to sound treatment systems for physical health, there is a gap between demand and supply of mental health treatment caused by shortages of professionals, especially in rural areas. And an even larger gap exists between people’s self-perceived and actual treatment needs. In most cases, individuals turn to professional services for help when they have already experienced clinical symptoms and severe self-mutilation, which are hard to reverse due to their lack of basic knowledge of symptoms and characteristics of mental disorders. Besides, financial barriers are one of the leading impediments for people to receive needed treatment because it is costly. Health insurance coverage is usually minimal, if such services are covered at all.

Mental health treatment has different forms according to the individual’s needs. Those with more manageable symptoms usually are recommended self-help plans, peer supports, and support groups. Since these treatments are relatively inexpensive, they’re also the most widely used. People who have more difficulty regulating their symptoms might be prescribed other treatments, such as psychotherapy, medication, and hospitalization. Regardless of whether you’re diagnosed with a mental disorder or not, you need to pay attention to your mental health, develop good coping mechanisms, and not be afraid to seek treatment when necessary. Your overall health depends on it.

Think Further

  1. What steps can you take to help improve your mental wellbeing?
  2. What do you think will be the consequences if people who have mental disorder symptoms do not get early treatment? 
  3. Why do you think there’s a lack of mental health treatment and understanding?

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Learn More

  1. Mental illness – Symptoms and causes.Mayo Clinic. (2019, June 8).https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/mental-illness/symptoms-causes/syc-20374968
  2. Mental Health: Strengthening our response”. World Health Organization.(2018, March 30).https://www.who.int/en/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/mental-health-strengthening-our-response.
  3. Any Mental Illness (AMI) Among U.S. Adults. National Institute of Mental Health. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/mental-illness.shtml.
  4. Henderson C, Evans-Lacko S, Thornicroft G. Mental illness stigma, help seeking, and public health programs. Am J Public Health. 2013;103(5):777-780. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2012.301056.