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What Is Mental Health? Meaning, Types, and Symptoms

What Is Mental Health

In recent years mental health awareness has received more attention and publicity due to increased suicide or attempts around the world. A person’s overall emotional, psychological, and social well-being is referred to as mental health. A person’s mental health can be defined by how they feel, act, think, and interact with others. Mental illnesses may include symptoms of a group of illnesses that affects a person’s mood, choices, thinking, behavior, or general perceptions. Mental illness and stress have been seen to have a complex relationship where stress worsens all the symptoms. The state of the mental health of a person can also be determined by how stress is handled, interpersonal relationships, and choices made.

What Is Mental Health

At one stage in your life, you may have experienced mental health problems like mood changes, thoughts, behavior and other parts of your living may have been affected. When mental health problems are overlooked or do not obtain adequate treatment, they can become chronic and lead to fatal incidents. When managed, a person may receive medication, counseling, or both and may be engaged in many other activities to improve their overall well-being. Mental well-being is an important aspect of our day-to-day existence and at every stage of life from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.

Mental health problems may be influenced by various factors including:

  • Genetics: A family history of mental health problems
  • Psychological factors: Believe system, social integration, severe psychological  trauma or abuse including physical and emotional pain
  • Biological factors: Like genes or brain chemistry

Mental health problems are common and not to be ignored. With help, people with mental health problems can get better and many recover completely.

Mental Health and Wellness

Positive mental health allows people to:

  • Realize their full potential
  • Cope with the stresses of life
  • Work productively
  • Make meaningful contributions to their communities

Ways to maintain positive mental health include:

  • Getting professional help if you need it
  • Connecting with others
  • Staying positive
  • Getting physically active
  • Helping others
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Developing coping skills


The signs, symptoms, and early warning characteristics of mental health problems may vary, depending on the circumstances, disorder,  and other factors. These symptoms can affect emotions, thoughts, and behaviors.

They may include:

  • Feeling sad, down, no or low energy levels
  • Major changes in eating and sleeping habits like too much or too little eating or sleeping
  • Sex drive changes
  • Feeling confused and a noticeable reduced ability to concentrate
  • Significant tiredness
  • Increased fears, worries, or extreme feelings of guilt
  • Severe mood changes of highs and lows
  • Withdrawal from friends, people, and usual activities
  • Inability to cope with and perform daily problems or stress
  • Reduced and abnormal human interaction.
  • Problems with smoking, alcohol, or drug use
  • Persistent thoughts and memories usually
  • Excessive anger, hostility, or violence
  • Always feeling on the edge, confused, upset, forgetful, or scared
  • Suicidal and self-harm thoughts
  • Detachment from reality (delusions), paranoia, or hallucinations
  • Constant yelling, violence, and fighting off friends or family
  • Feeling numb, unconcerned about anything, feeling like nothing matters anymore
  • Helpless or hopeless feelings
  • Will be believe and hear voices that are unreal and not true
  • Sometimes symptoms of mental health problems appear as physical problems, such as unexplained aches and pains in the back or headaches.

Types of mental health issues and illnesses

  • Behavioral and emotional disorders in children
  • Anxiety disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Dissociation and dissociative disorders
  • Schizophrenia
  • Eating disorders
  • Bipolar affective disorder
  • Depression
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Paranoia
  • Psychosis
  1. Behavioral and emotional disorders in children

It is rare for children under 5 to be correctly diagnosed with a serious behavioral disorder. They may however, begin to display symptoms of a disorder that could be correctly diagnosed in later stages of childhood. Some common disorders may include:

attention deficit, depression, oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, conduct disorder (CD), and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Treatment for these mental health disorders can include but is not limited to medication, therapy, and education

  • Anxiety disorders

Anxiety disorders are characterized by constant worry for no reason.  They are a group of mental health disorders that include generalized anxiety disorders, specific phobias (for example, agoraphobia and claustrophobia), panic disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and social phobias, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). If left untreated or mismanaged, anxiety disorders can lead to significant impairment in people’s daily lives making it difficult for them to perform day-to-day activities.

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that can develop as a response to people who have experienced any traumatic event either as a result of physical or sexual abuse, torture, domestic or fatal car accidents, assault, or war-related events, or natural disasters like earthquakes or floods.  Being part of or witnessing an extremely traumatic event such as an accident or an assault can later lead to PTSD. Symptoms of PTSD include the inability to relax, and difficulty in sleeping as a result of constant flashbacks of the event.

  • Dissociation and dissociative disorders

This is a mental health condition where a person with its symptoms is disconnected from their thoughts, memories, feelings or any sense of identity. Examples of dissociative disorders include the dissociative fugue, dissociative identity disorder, dissociative amnesia, and depersonalization disorder.

  • Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a complex psychotic disorder when people interpret reality abnormally and it is characterized by hallucinations, delusions, disruptions to thinking and emotions, and very distorted thinking or behavior. Symptoms of schizophrenia vary widely but may include social withdrawal, hallucinations, lack of motivation, delusions, thought disorder, and impaired thinking and memory. They have a high risk of suicide. Schizophrenia is not a split personality and people with schizophrenia often require lifelong treatment

  • Bipolar affective disorder

The exact cause of this disorder is unknown. Bipolar Affective Disorder was historically referred to as ‘manic depression. Patients may experience episodes of mania (elation), and depression and may or may not experience psychotic symptoms, wide mood alteration, and changes in behavior and thinking. Environmental stressors can also trigger episodes of this disorder

  • Depression

This mood disorder is often characterized by a lack or loss of interest, a lowering of mood, and reduced energy. Depending on the level of severity and type, the symptoms differ, it is not just feeling sad. Symptoms of depression are one of the major causes of increased suicidal thoughts or behaviors.

  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a type of anxiety disorder that causes the repetition of unwanted thoughts, images, or sensations, obsessions, impulses, and urges that are intrusive and compulsive. A person may have both compulsions and obsessions which are time-consuming and unnecessary repetitive rituals. OCD patients may undergo cognitive behavior therapy (CBT). It is important to note that OCD isn’t about habits like biting your nails, being very arranged, or thinking negative thoughts.

  • Eating disorders

Eating disorders are severe conditions associated with continuous eating behaviors that affect health, feelings, and ability to perform in necessary areas of life negatively. Eating disorders affect males and females although research indicates it affects more females and causes serious psychological and physical consequences in both genders. The most common eating disorders include anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge-eating disorder, and other binge eating disorders.

  1. Paranoia

This is a persistent but ludicrous feeling of one being threatened, in danger people are ‘out to get you’, watching you or acting against you, even in the light of it being untrue. People with paranoia have concerns not based on reality all the time. Symptoms of this condition may be indications of delusional (paranoid) disorder, paranoid personality disorder, and schizophrenia. Treatment is usually a combination of medication and psychological support.

  1. Psychosis

Psychosis comes off as a combination of various symptoms that results in impaired ability to differentiate reality from delusions.  Individuals influenced by psychosis may be confused, and experience hallucinations and delusions. These can be symptoms of a serious mental disorder and can occur in other mental health problems such as mood disorders, drug-induced psychosis, and schizophrenia. Treatment, support, and medication are provided for people with psychotic symptoms.


There’s no sure way to prevent mental problems and illnesses. However, if you are experiencing symptoms or have been medically diagnosed, taking steps like boosting low self-esteem, controlling stress, positive outlook, and increasing your resilience will help keep symptoms under control. It’s important to take care of yourself and get the most from life.  Below are very practical ways that require simple changes and don’t need to be expensive to look after your mental health. Do not procrastinate, you can start today!

Talk about your feelings

It can be hard to talk about our feelings or describe it, however good mental health conditions require you to talk and how you feel and deal with these feelings in a healthy way. Talking about how you feel isn’t a sign of weakness but strength. It gives you the ability to take charge of your well-being and do what you can to stay healthy. It is a good coping mechanism especially when you’ve been carrying a problem in your head for a while.

Keep active

It is easier to fall into unwanted habits or thoughts when you are not active. Exercise on the other hand releases chemicals in the brain that makes a person feel good. Exercising regularly boosts self-esteem,  concentration, sleep and overall well-being It maintains the health of the brain and other vital organs.. Try to maintain a regular schedule too. You don’t have to get a gym membership to lift weights. A regular evening walk or run can make you feel better.

Eat well

There are strong links between our feelings and what we eat. Foods like caffeine and sugar can have an immediate effect on your mood. Eat at least 3 times a day, drink water, and remember your brain needs a balanced diet to function well. However if your doctor or dietician has given you specific dietary advice, please stick to it, especially in a kidney patient or a diabetic.

Keep in touch

A circle of supportive friends and strong family ties helps you deal with the challenges of life. They are there to care for you and make you feel loved. They also help keep you active, offer a different narrative, keep you grounded and help you solve practical problems.

Ask for help

It’s ok not to feel great all the time, none of us are superhuman. Reach out when you feel overwhelmed or when things go wrong and you feel you can’t cope, ask for help. Mental health problems can become severe and harder to treat if you don’t speak up and symptoms get worse. Maintenance and long treatment may help prevent a relapse of symptoms. Medical experts and local services also provide help like suggesting

  • A support group
  • Assigning a counselor to help yo
  • A session with Citizens Advice Bureau if it’s debt problems

Pay attention to warning signs

Your body is a biological machine. It needs regular ‘servicing and maintenance. Do not overwork or stress out the body without adequate rest. When you are tired give yourself time to rest and when hungry eat properly. Mental health and sleep have a cordial relationship so when the body lacks sleep, mental health suffers and concentration goes downhill. Sometimes the world can wait. Seek medical advice and help I’d you start noticing symptoms.

Take a break

Take a deep breath, learn to pause, and destress. This is very important for your mental health. You must not be visibly idle to take a break. You may travel, do or explore something and somewhere new. Take a deep breath and give yourself some “me time.” and unwind. Yoga is a good starting point.

Find something you enjoy doing

Indulge in a preferably productive hobby. Create your happiness, accept who you are, everyone is unique and all different. When you accept these differences it’s easier to be happy and not wish to be like someone else. Aside from finding a hobby, activities like learning a new skill, visiting new places, or making new friends help you develop the healthy self-esteem needed to cope. Do not be too hard on yourself, celebrate all your wins no matter how small, and be proud of yourself and all the things you’re good at. If you want to change something about yourself, ensure its realistic and work step by step towards it


Mental health problems can become severe and lead to fatal incidents. It can affect working and personal relationships. However, Medication, counseling, or both can help you manage and prevent recurring symptoms.

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