What is mental health?

According to the World Health Organization, mental health is “a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.”

Doctors ask their patients ‘what’s going well?’ rather than saying ‘what’s the problem?’

”Mental health is about wellness rather than illness”

Mental health involves a blend of positive feelings and activities that one brings into practice to maintain healthy living. Like having a positive attitude, staying physically active, being kind & helping others. Sound sleep and a healthy diet are a must to stay mentally fit.

They say, “There is no health without mental health”

Certain behavior characteristics amount to good mental health like a person’s desire to learn more, being socially active, a healthy lifestyle, and much more. In contrast, mental health conditions can cause distress, impact one’s day-to-day functioning and relationships, and are associated with poor physical health and premature death from suicide.

Mental health is about being cognitively, emotionally, and socially healthy – the way we think, feel, and develop relationships – and not merely the absence of a mental health condition.

Mental illness and mental health are placed as separate dimensions. Both require to be addressed separately.

When we are in a bad job, in a terrible relationship, or struggling with other life issues, our mental health gets affected. The stressful situations may let you down, and make you miserable for a few days or weeks but that does not define mental illness. As illustrated in the diagram, It can be low mental health, but a very low level or no level of mental illness.

Conversely, a person with a chronic mental illness such as OCD or bipolar disorder may have high mental illness and low mental health. But if the patient maintains well with treatment, and has a sustaining job and relationship, can be categorized under High mental illness – High mental health.

Not as obviously visible as physical injury, mental illness is as crippling to an athlete. The performance pressure, team selection, raising their game bar, and peer group pressure can muddle up anyone’s mental state. From depression to bipolar disorder, from self-harm and anxiety to anything, a lot of sportspeople have faced such issues and have sought professional help to analyze the real-time situation and have come out of their low mode. English cricketers, Steve Harmison & Marcus Trescothick are classic examples who fought depression and revealed their condition in a documentary.

Bollywood has a lot of such examples like Manisha Koirala went through depression after a divorce. Deepika Padukone’s sudden revelations of her struggles with anxiety and depression came as a shock to many. Amitabh Bachan has also spoken about a phase where he had gone through depression and had worked out to bring his mental state into the positive zone.

The most known example of paranoid schizophrenia from Bollywood is Praveen Babi who felt someone would kill her and she stayed indoors all day to stay safe.

There are a lot of problems that we face in our daily lives which make us feel sad and low, but our mood changes as we move along with daily activities. Worrying or thinking too much about anything makes the person suffering from anxiety and disturbances in mood.

One of the reports, targeting college students focused on student-athletes revealed that they are not immune to struggles with mental well-being. Despite good physical health, they suffered from mental health problems.

About 30 percent of the 195,000 respondents to a recent American College Health Association (ACHA) survey reported having felt depressed in the last 12 months, and 50 percent reported having felt overwhelming anxiety during the same period.

Multiple issues make people feel low:

  • Academics
  • Career-related issue
  • Death of a family member or friend
  • Family problem
  • Intimate relationship
  • Other social relationship
  • Finance
  • Health problem of a family member or partner
  • Personal appearance
  • Personal health issue
  • Sleep difficulty

Like having a good-physically-active body, it is essential to have healthy mental health to sustain a balanced life. One must learn ways to stay happy and content. Accepting situations is the foremost thing in life to stay positive and keeping healthy mental health.

Read also How to face your fears, What to expect in your first counseling

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