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.
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 state 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.
Mind has a whole wealth of information and support available: https://www.mind.org.uk