According to the World Health Organization (WHO) “Mental health is a state of well-being in which an individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.” Mental health encompasses our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. Our mental health is all about how we think, feel, and behave. Our mental health also affects how we handle stress, relate to others, and make healthy choices and is important at any stage in life, from children to adults. Taking care of one's mental health can preserve an individual's ability to enjoy life.
What Factors Determine Mental Health?
There are multiple factors that determine the level of a person’s mental health at any time, these factors include social, psychological, and biological factors. Every person has some risk of developing a mental health problem no matter your age, gender, income, or ethnicity. For example, things that could increase your risk for mental health problems could include:
- Persistent social and economic pressure - those with limited finances or that belong to a marginalized ethnic group can have an increased risk of mental health problems
- Sexual violence
- Rapid social change
- Stressful work conditions
- Gender discrimination
- Social exclusion - having few friends or feeling lonely or isolated
- Unhealthy lifestyle
- Physical health
- Human rights violations.
- Biological factors - there are certain genes and gene variations that can put a person at high risk for mental health issues.
- Early adverse life experiences - examples of this could include trauma, abuse, child abuse, sexual assault, etc
Common Mental Health Disorders
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders are the most common type of mental health disorders. People who suffer from these conditions have extreme fear or anxiety that is related to specific objects or situations. Examples of anxiety disorders include:
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) - this is defined as having disproportionate worry that disrupts daily living. People who suffer from GAD could suffer from physical symptoms that could include restlessness, fatigue, tense muscles, and interrupted sleep. There is not always a specific trigger in people with GAD.
- Panic Disorders - People who suffer from panic disorders experience regular panic attacks and live in fear of having another panic attack. Panic attacks involve immediate, overwhelming terror or a sense of impending disaster. A panic attack happens due to heightened anxiety and can cause rapid heartbeat, rapid breathing, sweating, shaking, nausea, and dizziness.
- Phobias - there are 3 different types of phobia:
- Simple phobias - this type of phobia involves a disproportionate fear of certain objects, scenarios, or animals.
- Social Phobia - this involves the fear of being subject to the judgment of others.
- Agoraphobia - this involves the fear of situations where getting away could be difficult, like being in an elevator or train.
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) - people who suffer from OCD experience constant, stressful thoughts, and an intense urge to perform repetitive actions, like washing hands.
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) - PTSD typically occurs after someone experiences or witness a stressful or traumatic event.
Mood disorders are often referred to as affective or depressive disorders. People who suffer from these disorders have significant changes in mood like going from periods of high energy or depression.
- Major Depression - individuals who suffer from major depression experience consistently low mood and loss of interest in activities they once enjoyed. They can experience prolonged periods of sadness.
- Bipolar Disorder - individuals who suffer from bipolar disorder experience unusual changes in mood, energy levels, activity level, and ability to continue daily life. The periods of high mood are called manic phases, and low mood is called the depressive phase.
- Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) - as daylight is reduced in the fall, winter, and early spring months SAD can be triggered in some individuals causing depression.
Schizophrenia is an extremely complex condition. Signs of this disorder typically develop between the ages of 16 and 30 years of age. Individuals who suffer from this disorder may experience thoughts that are fragmented and they may find it hard to process information. Symptoms of schizophrenia include delusions, thought disorders, hallucinations, withdrawal, lack of motivation, or inappropriate mood.
What Are The Early Signs of Mental Health Problems?
There are not currently any tests that can indicate whether a person will develop a mental illness, however, you should look out for the following possible signs of a mental health disorder:
- Withdrawing from friends, family, and colleagues
- Avoiding activities they would normally enjoy
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Having consistently low energy
- Increased use of mood-altering substances like alcohol and nicotine
- Displaying negative emotions
- Being confused
- Being unable to complete daily tasks
- Having persistent thoughts or memories that reappear regularly
- Thinking of causing physical harm to themselves or others
- Hearing voices
- Experiencing delusions
- Unexplained aches and pains
- Severe mood swings
- Inability to perform daily tasks
Treatment Options For Mental Health
There are a variety of treatment methods for managing mental health issues. Treatment is depended on the individual, what may work for one person may not work for another. Treatment options could include therapy, medication, or self-help. Many people may find they are more successful with a combination of treatments. Having a supportive network of family and/or friends can also be essential to someone recovering from mental illness. Treatment options could include:
- Psychotherapy - This form of treatment takes a psychological approach to treating mental illness. There are a variety of options such as cognitive behavioral therapy, exposure therapy, and dialectical behavior therapy. This type of treatment can be carried out by psychiatrists, psychologists, psychotherapists, and primary care physicians. Talking with a professional about your mental health can help you to understand the root cause of your mental illness and figure out ways to work on coping mechanisms and healthy thought patterns that can support your everyday life.
- Medication - Taking medication for mental health can not cure your disorder, but they often help with improving your symptoms and help individuals to resume normal routines and social interactions. Common prescription medications are antidepressants, antipsychotics, and anxiolytic drugs. These medications work to boost the body’s absorption of the “feel-good” chemicals, like serotonin, in the brain, or to boost the levels of these chemicals or prevent destruction of them.
- Self-Help - Individuals suffering from mental health problems often need to make changes to their lifestyle to promote their well-being. Lifestyle changes could include limiting alcohol consumption, getting better sleep, eating a healthier diet. People suffering from anxiety or depression could benefit from relaxation techniques like deep breathing, meditation, and mindfulness.
Where Can I Get Treatment for My Mental Health
Treatment for mental health can be done in clinics or through online companies with the use of telemedicine. The following is a list of telemedicine companies:
- Able To
- 7 Cups
- Alpha Medical
- Spring Health
- Big Health
- Meru Health
Ways to Promote and Protect Mental Health
Mental health promotion requires activities that improve your psychological well-being. Actions that can promote mental health could include strategies and programs that create an environment and conditions that support mental health and enables people to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Check out these specific ways to help promote and protect mental health for individuals and communities:
- Early childhood interventions such as providing a stable environment
- Support to children like skill-building programs and child and youth development programs
- Empowerment of women by providing socio-economic programs that improve access to education and credit
- Social support for the elderly population that includes day and community centers
- Mental health-promoting activities in schools
- Mental health programs at work, like stress prevention programs
- Housing policies to help with housing improvement
- Violence prevention programs
- Community development programs
- Poverty reduction and social protection for the poor
- anti-discrimination laws and campaigns
- Promotion of the rights, opportunities, and care of individuals with mental disorders
When it comes to mental health, there is no “one size fits all” treatment plan. Even individuals who suffer from the same disorder may have different needs or have different goals for their treatment. Whether you think you are currently suffering from a mental health disorder or you are just looking to speak to someone to improve your mental health, thanks to the constant improvement of technology there are dozens of reputable online mental health companies that can connect you with high-quality mental health professionals that can help you today. Using an online doctor platform makes mental health care more accessible, affordable, and convenient. We did the work for you and created a list of the top online doctors that can help you improve your mental health or treat your disorder today.