Mental health is equally important as physical health, if not more. Whether we see the psychological aspects of a chronic disease or the implications of a disturbed state of mind, we can’t ignore mental health and the consequences it implies on our quality of life.
Our feelings, emotions, thoughts, values, and beliefs all integrate well to play an important role in one’s overall wellbeing. If we don’t take care of these facets, they tend to negatively impact our social life, physical health, financial status, and other factors which are important for a human’s survival and growth.
In the US alone, over 19% of the nationals are victims of some kind of mental health disorder.
It is important for us to bring a sense of awareness around the definition of mental health and find out possible treatments and resources that we can apply to address this rising situation.
Definition of Mental Health
According to the World Health Organization, the definition of mental health is as follows:
Mental health is a state of complete mental wellness in which the person acknowledges well their potential, can overcome the minute daily stress of life, is able to function productively and fruitfully, and has the ability to contribute towards their community in a positive manner.
However, getting this state of perfect mental stability is not much common in a lot of areas in the world. Incapacities and disturbances that disturb the individual to live a life in a fruitful manner are termed mental health illnesses. For example, over 970 million people across the globe have substance abuse or a mental health disorder, according to a study conducted in 2018.
What are Some Common Mental Health Conditions?
There are many mental health conditions, and each of them deserves to be addressed with full attention. Let’s look at some of them:
Anxiety is characterized by anticipating a problem or damage that encompasses a situation that accompanies feelings and symptoms, often with profound intensity.
ADHD, or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, is thought to cause hyperactive and impulsive attitudes among young children and pre-teens. Individuals find it troubling to put their focus on one task in front of them.
Autism is a type of neurological condition which is diagnosed in young children that concerns different problems that relate to social inertness, restricted activities, productivities, and speech problems.
Clinical depression, with Major Depressive Disorder as the most common type, is a state of prolonged episodes of low mood that tends to paralyze the individual’s ability to function well and have a better quality of life. If not controlled and addressed in time, it can lead to serious conditions like suicidal thoughts and attempts.
Bipolar disorder is characterized by extreme mood changes happening in extreme polarities – manic episodes to depressive episodes. This instability can lead to a drastic decrease in quality of life.
PTSD or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder happens because of experiencing shocking and unanticipated events which lie outside the range of a normal human experience. The trauma overwhelms the coping mechanism, which creates intense surges of feelings and symptoms. Complex PTSD or C-PTSD is a complicated PTSD with often masked trauma from the past that unveils in the form of unwanted symptoms.
Individuals start depending on substances and get into a habit of addiction which causes serious effects. A person who is a victim of substance abuse is no longer able to lead a quality life as the substance being abused takes all the centricity in one’s life, depriving all the abilities of the individual completely.
What are the treatments for mental health disorders?
If the symptoms and issues pertaining to the condition are severe, and talk therapy alone cannot help, a specialized psychiatrist is needed to address the case.
The individual might be medicated with certain antipsychotic drugs to stabilize the condition.
The patient is then referred to specialized psychologists and counselors who are experts in addressing the case and help the patient find an improvement and sustenance in their life.
Some of the therapies include the following:
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
CBT, or cognitive behavioral therapy, consists of a set of self-help assignments for an individual to deconstruct negative beliefs and constructs in mind to make way for positive ones as an attempt to rectify one’s behaviors. This way, you can experience yourself getting freed from the old negative patterns of thinking that we’re creating a hurdle in your life. A therapist will help you to reconstruct your perspectives through carrying out tasks.
Guided Self-Help Therapy
This kind of therapy is recommended as an assistive treatment for depression, panic attacks, and anxiety attacks. The guide will assist you in working your way out from the things that cause disturbance in your mind and hamper you from living your normal life. Under the correct guidance of a psychologist, you will be better able to acknowledge your issue and work around them during the professional sessions.
It is a kind of talk therapy that includes the counselor who listens to you with confidentiality, and they help you deal with facing the issues in life. Such issues relate to coping with chronic pain, fertility problems, addictions, and others. These would take 6 to 12 sessions on average.
This type of therapy comes with the target to help people cope with disorders like depression with the help of some practical steps. It is either doable in live group sessions or on phone calls that are conducted by a therapist. On a general note, these therapies take 16 to 20 sessions on average.
Interpersonal Therapeutic Sessions
Interpersonal Therapy or IPT is a therapy that helps people deal with depression and assists them in the identification of the issues through fixing their relations with their sphere of influence. These may include family members, friends, colleagues, and other people of concern.
It is established for helping people with PTSD to process their troubling flashbacks to let go of those troublesome memories from the past that caused them the trauma. Having support from the side of a loved one can ease the occasional distress that may happen during this processing.
Intensive Outpatient Therapy
A relatively fresher idea in the field of psychology, IOP or Intensive Outpatient Therapy involves long sessions for treatment that involve multiple therapies for helping the patient tackle different mental health problems in a better way. It is usually given to patients with emergency conditions who are in need of acute support.
Now that we know the definition of mental health and the therapies related to mental health, let’s find out ways to improve our mental health.
How Can You Improve Your Mental Health?
Some of the ways through which you can improve your mental health significantly and prevent mental health disorders from occurring include, but are not limited, to the following:
It is fine to have healthy distractions from your negative thoughts. For example, you can search some grounding techniques which will help you to know some ways through which you can bring your focus to the present moment around you instead of dwelling on your negative thoughts.
This becomes increasingly necessary at times when we can’t afford to be overthinking, such as when performing a demanding task or when we are having an anxiety attack.
It is necessary to bring our focus back to the present. These techniques apply through our senses. For example, we can count objects of the same color in the room we are in and other things like that.
Get Emotional Support
Isolation paves the way for overthinking. Some people might find a positive breakthrough when they are in that state, but in most cases, they find themselves dwelling in depression, stress, and anxiety.
It is best to not let your thoughts bottle up and instead find emotional support to deal with your stuff. Sometimes, you don’t need a serious talk, just have a fun moment with your friends or make a purposeful conversation about your goals, and you will feel much better.
Engage in Active Gratitude
Showing gratitude is one brilliant way to cope with the sense of emptiness that we may feel when we are not feeling our best. Some of the ways you can show gratitude include the following:
- Count at least three blessings you are truly grateful for before starting your day
- Appreciate the effort, love, care, or kindness of anyone who shows you these values during your day
- Send positive self-affirmations to yourselves.
- Spend your time in nature for a while and note the blessings around you
- At the end of your day, write things you were grateful about that day
Break Free of Habit
Your brain is wired to perform tasks and think according to the habitual cycle you follow every day. The real challenge comes in when you decide to do something out of the habit.
This is where your brain becomes alert and tries to consider this as a challenge it has to win. For example, try brushing your teeth with your less dominant hand when you wake up, and you experience morning sadness.
This out-of-context task would force the mind to shift its direction to the task at hand and make it distracted from the negative thought that is disturbing you.
The Takeaways of Managing your Mental Health
- Distracting through grounding techniques can be helpful sometimes. In some cases, these might also be essential for you.
- Talk to a friend and get some emotional support you need – no need to bottle your emotions and dwell in them for no reason.
- Show compassion to others, reciprocate their positive energy towards you, and practice active gratitude towards others, towards nature, and most importantly, towards yourself.
- Don’t be too hard on yourself; you are not supposed to do that when it comes to protecting your inner peace. You need to be polite with yourself in times you are experiencing mental health crises.
- Break your habit and do something out of the ordinary. This will be a new challenge to the brain that will help you to get distracted from the thought and shift your energy to the new task at hand.
Integrating Physical Health into Mental Health
Diet and exercise play an important factor in determining your physical health. Studies now suggest that they have a powerful impact on your mental health as well. For example, when we do exercise, our mental health, and physical health both improve to a significant level. This helps us be more purposeful in our lives and aid us in fulfilling our goals in a better way.
When our mind and body are in the correct states, we feel quite capable of carrying out the purpose that we are having in our lives in a much positive manner. Also, when we work to discipline our body and maintain our health and fitness levels through a balanced diet and healthy exercise, we program our minds to get more able by the day.
As a result, things like negativity, procrastination, and feelings of blue are pretty much dissolved, revealing a more practical, much better version of ourselves that can get the best out of any condition we are facing.
We will feel a better sense of completion as we introduce healthy habits such as healthy eating and doing physical activity daily – which is included in the definition of mental health.
Getting Professional Help
In terms of medications and therapies, getting treatments from mental health professionals is the best course of treatment to go for.
When done through a proper scheduling and organized approach, professional help is profoundly the ideal plan for anyone who is dealing with disorders of mental health such as anxiety and depression.
Depending on what we see today, the mental health issue is no longer a topic that stays unnoticed as it has implications expanding beyond one’s horizons. We hope this article gave you an insight to the definition of mental health, related therapies, and ways of improving it.