What is mental health?
- 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 healthy choices.
- Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.
- Although the terms are often used interchangeably, poor mental health and mental illness are not the same.
- A person can experience poor mental health and not be diagnosed with a mental illness. Likewise, a person diagnosed with a mental illness can experience periods of physical, mental, and social well-being.
Why is mental health important for overall health?
- Mental and physical health are equally important components of overall health.
- For example, depression increases the risk for many types of physical health problems, particularly long-lasting conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.
- Similarly, the presence of chronic conditions can increase the risk for mental illness.
Can your mental health change over time?
- Yes, it’s important to remember that a person’s mental health can change over time, depending on many factors.
- When the demands placed on a person exceed their resources and coping abilities, their mental health could be impacted.
- For example, if someone is working long hours, caring for a relative, or experiencing economic hardship, they may experience poor mental health.
How common are mental illnesses?
Mental illnesses are among the most common health conditions in the United States.
- More than 50% will be diagnosed with a mental illness or disorder at some point in their lifetime.
- 1 in 5 Americans will experience a mental illness in a given year.
- 1 in 5 children, either currently or at some point during their life, have had a seriously debilitating mental illness.
- 1 in 25 Americans lives with a serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depression.
What causes mental illness?
There is no single cause for mental illness. A number of factors can contribute to risk for mental illness, such as
- Early adverse life experiences, such as trauma or a history of abuse (for example, child abuse, sexual assault, witnessing violence, etc.)
- Experiences related to other ongoing (chronic) medical conditions, such as cancer or diabetes
- Biological factors or chemical imbalances in the brain
- Use of alcohol or drugs
- Having feelings of loneliness or isolation