What is Mental Health?
We all know what our physical health is. If we have good physical health, this generally means we are free of any sickness or injury. This covers a wide range of things, from our diet to our dental health, but generally, if we feel good in our bodies, we are thought to be physically well.
However, feeling well isn’t just something that stems from our bodies. Our minds play a huge part in our overall wellbeing, which is why we have a separate classification for our mental health. Though, as mental health is still relatively unexplored in comparison to our physical health, many people ask the question ‘What does mental health mean?’
The WHO definition of mental health is that ‘Mental health is a state of wellbeing in which an individual realises 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.’
As such, mental health is that what affects how we think, feel and act. It is also that what enables us to handle stress, relate to others and make independent choices. For this reason, it is clear to see how vital our mental health is to our overall being.
Why is Mental Health Important?
The first thing to clarify is that mental health issues and enduring mental health disorders are two different things.
An individual can experience a period of poor mental health and not need an official mental health diagnosis. This is because mental health issues can be temporary, or come and go, and the individual can potentially completely recover from them, whereas enduring mental health disorders tend to be a permanent condition the individual needs to manage throughout their lives.
Either way, our mental health is important because poor mental health can affect us in many ways. Short term effects of mental health issues and disorders include feelings of anger, sadness, isolation or alienation from others. They can also prevent individuals from thriving at school, work or in their personal lives and make them want to withdraw from social situations entirely.
In the longer term, mental health issues and disorders can drive individuals to commit more serious acts like suicide or self-harm. While not directly having physical symptoms, many mental health conditions can indirectly lead to physical issues like fatigue, weight loss, a loss of libido and other physical ramifications.
For these reasons and more, protecting your mental health is incredibly important, just as much as caring for your physical health.
Is Mental Health Genetic?
Poor mental health can be a genetic trait, though it can also be brought on by a host of other factors.
Overall, poor mental health stems from:
Brain Impairment – When the neural networks that control neurotransmitters are damaged, nerve receptors can lose their ability to function or they can change, which can lead to depression and other emotional disorders.
Environmental Factors – When an individual has been exposed to certain things in the womb, like alcohol and drugs, inflammatory conditions and toxins.
Inherited Traits – Individuals whose blood relatives have mental health issues or disorders will be more likely to experience them themselves. This is because particular genes are known to increase the risk of developing these conditions, and life events may trigger them to surface.
How Many People Suffer from Mental Health?
At this time, it’s estimated at least 1 in 4 people experience mental health challenges each year in the UK. To get an idea of just how widespread mental health issues and enduring disorders are, the below statistics represent the number of people affected by mental health disorders globally:
- 792 million people are affected by mental health issues worldwide
- An estimated 264 million people across the globe are affected by depression
- Bipolar disorder affects about 45 million people
- 20 million people experience schizophrenia and other psychoses
- At least 50 million people have dementia
How to Get a Mental Health Diagnosis?
As society learns more about the prevalence of mental ill-health, more is being done to support these emerging needs. So if you’re wondering how to get mental health help, there are a growing number of mental health support services available to you.
Getting a mental health diagnosis usually starts with your GP. They can diagnose more common mental health challenges like anxiety and depression after one or two appointments. Though, for mental health conditions that are less common, or seemingly more severe, the GP will refer you to a mental health specialist on the NHS or privately if you have access to private medical.
This often means you will be assessed over a longer period of time before a diagnosis is given. In any case, you will receive a detailed assessment that aims to help create an accurate picture of your needs. Depending on where you go for your assessment, you may be seen by one or more professionals.
Your mental health diagnosis may be helped by the input of Nurses, Social Workers, Psychologists, Specialist Pharmacists, Psychiatrists, a combination of these and potentially other professionals. If you’re interested in working in mental health, you can discover the best ways to enter the mental health field in our blog.
Throughout the mental health assessment, they will explore everything from your mental health symptoms and experiences to your feelings, thoughts and actions. They will also question you about housing and financial circumstances, as well as your use of drugs and past experiences.
While this may seem invasive, being frank and open about all of these points and more helps the mental health team identify your needs and the challenges you are facing. You will also get the opportunity to ask your own questions and discuss the diagnosis in a safe space. Helping you to come to terms with and be involved in the decision-making process surrounding your mental health.
What is The Mental Health Act?
The Mental Health Act is a law that has been put in place to inform people experiencing mental health issues and disorders about their rights, as well as the way they should be treated by others in society.
This can be incredibly helpful to individuals experiencing poor mental health, as well as any person who deals with or works with someone experiencing these challenges. The Mental Health Act is also designed to detail the process of detaining any individual who may need to remain in hospital for assessment or treatment. As well as the rights of the person being detained.
The Mental Health Act is updated regularly as new evidence emerges, to make sure the needs of individuals experiencing mental health issues and disorders are properly met.
How to Improve Mental Health
There are numerous ways you can boost your mental health and wellbeing to have a calmer and more positive outlook on life.
Connecting with others – Building strong and close relationships help promote feelings of belonging, self-worth. They also provide you with the opportunity to share positive experiences and have emotional support.
Partake in physical activity – Not only is it good for your physical health, being active has been proven to have a direct positive impact on mental wellbeing. By completing regular exercise you can boost your self-esteem, gain a sense of achievement and encourage chemical changes in the brain that lead to positive changes in mood.
Add to your skillset – Another excellent way of boosting your mental health by feeling like you have achieved something and have a sense of purpose is setting yourself the challenge of learning something new. In many instances, it also helps you connect with others.
Be kind and giving – You can also create more positive feelings in yourself by giving and being kind to others. You will no doubt gain a sense of purpose and reward, as well as amplify the positive relationships you have with others.
Be present in the moment – It’s easy to get wrapped up in negative thoughts when we are constantly distracted by films, social media and things that don’t represent reality. Instead, paying more attention to the present moment can boost your mindfulness and help you find more joy in life.
How to Raise Mental Health Awareness
Since the importance of mental health prevention and support was realised, many people have put in a huge amount of effort and time to raise awareness of this hugely important area of public health.
If you want to get involved, you can help share insightful and meaningful mental health quotes on your social media, to help get important conversations started. You can also help fund important work in this area by donating or volunteering with any of a number of mental health charities. Or even partake in one of the many awareness mental health days and events that occur each year.
- Children’s Mental Health Week
- Mental Health Awareness Week
- Mental Health Awareness Month
- World Mental Health Day
- Movember for men’s mental health
In addition to the above, arguably one of the best ways to raise mental health awareness is by studying mental health courses. This way, you will gain a better understanding of the extremely complex nature of mental health, plus how symptoms can be brought on or aggravated by a host of external factors.
With more awareness of the triggers and warning signs of mental ill-health, you can better support individuals experiencing an episode or help prevent a looming mental health crisis.
Study Mental Health with learndirect
As the leading UK online course provider, learndirect have an extensive range of mental health courses that you can study from the comfort of home.
Our courses cover the below categories:
- Mental Health in the Workplace Courses
- Mental Health Social Care Courses
- Mental Health Awareness Courses
Within these, there are numerous courses to explore from mental health first aid courses to those focusing on children’s mental health.
Opting to study mental health courses online makes your learning experience far more convenient. There will be no traipsing to class or sticking to a rigid timetable that doesn’t suit your needs. Instead, you can log on and learn as and when it suits, helping more learners fit study around their existing responsibilities.
What’s more, there are flexible payment options you can choose to make your education much more affordable. Find out more about these on our payments page.
If you’re ready to level up your knowledge on mental health, enrol on one of our online mental health courses today! Our Course Executives can run you through the options we have, speak to them now by phone on 01202 006 464 or contact them online.
Alternatively, click below to view our online mental health courses in more detail!