Mental health – what exactly does it mean?

It’s a term that we hear or read very often and aware that it’s to do with our mental state, rather than physical, BUT what does it actually refer to?

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), mental health is described as ‘a state of wellbeing in which the individual realises his or her abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community’.

In a lot of ways, mental health is very similar to our physical health: we all have it and we all need to do what we can to take care of it. Our body AND mind are our temples to protect. In our fast-paced, digitally connected world, the importance of mental health is more significant than ever. Yet, it often remains a topic shrouded in stigma and misunderstanding.

Mind defines ‘Good mental health means being generally able to think, feel and react in the ways that you need and want to live your life. But if you go through a period of poor mental health you might find the ways you’re frequently thinking, feeling or reacting become difficult, or even impossible, to cope with. This can feel just as bad as a physical illness, or even worse’.

Alarmingly, mental health problems affect around one in four people in any given year in the United Kingdom. They range from common problems, such as depression and anxiety, which we will cover in later blogs. It can also lead on to rarer problems such as schizophrenia  and bipolar disease.

Our mental health influences our physical health, as well as our capability to lead a healthy lifestyle and to manage and recover from physical health conditions.

Not surprisingly, people with physical health problems, in particular those with long-term conditions, are at increased risk of poor mental health – particularly depression and anxiety.

Mind states that ‘Around 30% of people with any long-term physical health condition also have a mental health problem’.

Coincidentally, poor mental health worsen some long-term conditions, such as chronic pain.

It is believed that the origins of health problems start early in our lives. At least half  of all mental health problems have already been developed and established by the age of 14, rising to 75% by age 24.

If mental health problems are so common, then why are they still so often hidden? Unfortunately despite campaigning, celebrity openness and the awareness of mental health issues increasing, there is still widespread stigma attached to mental health issues, Due to this, many people are not receiving support to access and the problems continue to worsen.

Alongside substance misuse, it is estimated that mental illness accounts for 21.3% of the total burden of disease in England. Poor mental health is estimated to carry an economic and social cost of £105 billion. That is only the financial impact.

What can we do? Learn and encourage people to accept that it is OK to not feel OK. There is help and support for you.  Mental health problems and suicide can be preventable. Promoting good mental health will impact on physical health and many other aspects of people’s lives.

Common Mental Health Challenges

Anxiety Disorders: Anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and social anxiety disorder, are among the most common mental health issues. They involve excessive fear or worry and can significantly impair daily functioning.

Depression: Characterized by persistent sadness, loss of interest in activities once enjoyed, and a range of emotional and physical problems, depression is a leading cause of disability worldwide.

Stress: While a certain level of stress is normal and can even be motivating, chronic stress can lead to severe health problems, both mental and physical.

Burnout: Often related to work, burnout includes feelings of energy depletion, increased mental distance from one’s job, and reduced professional efficacy. It’s becoming increasingly prevalent in today’s high-pressure environments.

The Stigma Surrounding Mental Health

Despite advancements in our understanding of mental health, stigma remains a significant barrier. Misconceptions and prejudices about mental illness can prevent individuals from seeking the help they need. This stigma can lead to discrimination, social exclusion, and self-stigma, where individuals internalize negative stereotypes, further hindering their recovery.

Steps to Improve Mental Health

Open Conversations: Talking openly about mental health can reduce stigma and encourage others to seek help. Share your experiences and listen without judgment to others.

Self-Care:  Prioritise activities that promote relaxation and well-being. This could include exercise, hobbies, reading, or simply spending time in nature.

Professional Help: Therapy and counselling are powerful tools for managing mental health.

Mindfulness and Meditation: Practices like mindfulness and meditation can help manage stress and improve overall emotional health. These techniques encourage a focus on the present moment, reducing the impact of negative thoughts and feelings.

Social Connections: Strong, supportive relationships are crucial for mental health. Make time to connect with friends and family, and consider joining groups or communities with shared interests.

Healthy Lifestyle: Nutrition, sleep, and physical activity have profound effects on mental health. A balanced diet, regular exercise, and sufficient rest can boost mood and energy levels. Look after your temple.

Seeking Help: Resources and Support

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, it’s essential to seek help


Useful websites


Mental Health Foundation

NHS Mental Health


2024-06-01T13:59:07+01:00May 31st, 2024|
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