What is Mental Health?

People are triangles. Some of us are taller, some of us are shorter, some are wider and some are narrower, but every single one of us, is a triangle.

The characteristics that make up a person can be largely broken down into three categories- physical, psychological and spiritual. This trio forms the strongest load-bearing shape that ever existed but in order to take the most amount of pressure, all the arms need to be equally strong. When one part isn’t looked after, it gets weaker and until 10 years ago, the psychological arm was the most neglected and overlooked. With a growing awareness and increase in conversation about the important of being mentally healthy, this is changing.

When we talk about mental health, almost everyone assumes it refers to being “Happy” and “having a positive outlook”. It actually includes a lot more than that. The term “mental health” is also often interchanged with mental illness as though they’re the same concept, when they’re actually very different.

Mental health is used to refer to our emotional health. It involves asking questions about what feelings we’re having, how often we’re having them and what effects these feelings have on our day to day life. It also asks if these feelings have constructive effects and help us function better, or if they have destructive effects and hold us back from living the best life we can live!

Just as physical health has varying degrees of well-being, psychological health does too. On one end of the spectrum, there are a few people who are extremely healthy and almost never have any issues while on the opposite end are a different but also small group of people who have multiple, debilitating issues and are disabled. Everyone who’s left behind, falls between these extremes, but most fall in the middle with “okay” health. This means they’re generally quite healthy, but occasionally will have a minor illnesses. Mental health is exactly the same!

Feeling slightly unwell very rarely means that a person has a serious illness and in the same way, people who have poor mental health, may or may not have a mental illness. With the society we live in and the world we are part of getting worse, we all have days when we’re overwhelmed, stressed and down in the dumps. Being mentally healthy, allows us to look at these issues realistically and cope with them effectively. Having a mental illness can sometimes not allow a person to do so, but with time, therapy and maybe even medication (if necessary), it is possible.

Having a mental illness doesn’t make being mentally healthy impossible. As with most other illnesses, mental illnesses are also episodic which means that sometimes, they’re more severe, sometime less, and sometimes it’s as if they don’t even exist. Part of managing a mental illness is making sure we take full advantage of the latter in order to prepare and function a little better when the mental illness is acting up at 100%.

Mental health is as important as our physical and spiritual health. The mind is a powerful tool and can often have far reaching effects on our bodies and souls. With the right strategy, even people who struggle with mental health and mental illnesses can live meaningful, fulfilling lives, in whatever way they decide to define that.

 

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