What is mental health?
According to the World Health Organisation, mental health is “a state of well-being in which every individual realises 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.” So, mental health is more about what is going well rather than what is not.
Mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, stress, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder can vary in severity and can have a great impact on day-to-day living and health.
Mental health is a complex area and even if you are not suffering from a mental health condition it doesn’t necessarily mean your mental health is thriving. Understanding mental health and having the tools to achieve it will result in more fulfilling and productive lives for all.
If you feel that depression, anxiety, or other mental health conditions may affect you, there is support and effective treatments available and the earlier you seek help, the better.
Symptoms of mental health
You may be concerned about your mental health if you have felt a significant change in your thoughts or feelings, have been crying a lot, abusing illicit drugs or have been drinking too much. Or it may be a combination of several factors. These can be tell-tale signs that something is up and that you may need to seek information or support about your concerns. Some signs could be:
- Feeling anxious or worried — when the worry or anxiety is constant and interferes with your day-to-day living. Other symptoms of anxiety may include heart palpitations, shortness of breath, headache or restlessness.
- Feeling depressed or unhappy — when you have been feeling sad or irritable for a long period, lacking in motivation or have trouble stopping yourself from crying.
- Dramatic mood changes — when you have experienced sudden and dramatic changes in mood, such as extreme anger or distress.
- Sleep problems — sleeping too much or too little could indicate anxiety, substance abuse, depression, or a sleeping disorder.
- Weight or appetite — fluctuating or rapid changes in weight and dramatic changes to appetite can be a sign of a mental condition.
- Substance abuse — if you are using alcohol or drugs to cope, this can be a sign of mental health issues and can contribute to the severity of the issue.
What kind of treatments are there for mental health?
If you are concerned about your mental health, you may need to get help. Psychiatrists, psychologists and counsellors are trained to help you with your mental health. They can give you advice on possible treatments, including therapies and lifestyle changes that can help with recovery. In some circumstances, medication may be required. Just by seeking help, this can go a long way to recovery.
Research shows that good mental health has a significant impact on our physical health. There are steps we can all take to improve our mental wellbeing:
- Be active — find an activity you enjoy and incorporate it into your life.
- Keep learning — learning a new skill can give you a sense of achievement and improve your confidence.
- Be giving — even the smallest acts of kindness can improve your mental health.
- Be aware — take notice of the present moment â€“ it can positively change the way your feel about yourself and your surroundings.
- Stay connected with family, friends, neighbours and colleagues — take the time to develop these relationships.
The benefits of good mental health are many and far reaching. Good mental health is a goal worth seeking.
If you are feeling suicidal or if you feel someone near you is feeling suicidal, please call the
FREE Lifeline Crisis Support and Suicide Prevention service on 13 11 14. This service is available 24 hours a day.