Defining Your Mental Health

The brain is always listening and responding to influences around us. Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make healthy choices.

Mental and physical health go hand in hand to support wellness and overall quality of life. For example, depression increases the risk for many types of physical health problems. Similarly, the presence of chronic health conditions can increase the likelihood for mental issues. 

What Factors Can Impact Mental Health?

There is no single cause or treatment for mental illness. Mental health can change over time, depending on various factors. For many, mental health problems may be a combination of more than one factor. 

Experiencing one or more of the following feelings or behaviors can be early warning signs:

-Life experiences, such as trauma and/or abuse

-Severe mood swings

-Social isolation or loneliness

-Use of alcohol or drugs

-Biological factors such as chemical imbalances in the brain

-Genes and family history

-Pulling away from people and usual activities

-Having a serious medical condition

-Chronic stress

Mental Disorders

Mental disorders include a wide range of conditions that affect mood, thinking, and behavior. They are generally characterized by a combination of abnormal thoughts, perceptions, emotions, behavior and relationships with others. Mental disorders may be occasional or long-lasting (chronic).

What are some common types?

Anxiety disorders
Post-traumatic stress disorder
Personality disorders
Depression, bipolar disorder, and other mood disorders
Psychotic disorders, including schizophrenia

Treatment often depends on the type of mental disorder and how serious it is.

How is well-being defined?

Mental health is much more than the absence of mental disorders. While there is no single definition of well-being, indicators that can help measure this include what people think and feel about their lives – such as the quality of their relationships, their emotions and resilience, the realization of their potential, or their overall satisfaction with life. Well-being generally includes feelings ranging from depression to joy and everything in between. In general, life satisfaction is heavily dependent on the availability of basic needs being met (food, shelter, income) as well as access to modern conveniences (like electricity).

Positive mental health allows us to:

  • Feel positive emotions like happiness, love, compassion, and joy
  • Better manage stresses of life
  • Realize your full potential
  • Be physically healthy
  • Have healthy relationships
  • Make meaningful contributions to the community
  • Work productively and set new goals

Positive emotions connect to one’s ability to process feelings in a healthy way. This doesn’t mean we will never be sad or go through challenging times. However, those with positive mental health tend to build a mental resilience overtime, which means they develop the tools to cope with and manage adversity, trauma and stress.