More and more, people are becoming aware of how important it is to talk about what they are thinking, experiencing, feeling, and to seek support. Learning about mental health can help you reach out and connect with someone if you are struggling. Or talk to a loved one if they need support.
What is mental health?
Physical health is the state of your physical body. Mental health is the state of your mind, and is part of your overall wellbeing. It is more than just the absence of an illness or disability.
"Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity" - World Health Organization
Like physical health, mental health can change over time, and it’s normal to have good and bad days. Your physical health condition, life experiences, relationships, and work or school environments can all influence your mental health.
Being mentally healthy allows you to feel, think and act in ways that help you enjoy life. It means you are able to cope with life’s challenges. Poor mental health may result in feeling unhappy, not thinking clearly, and may interfere with aspects of your daily life. This can cause you to withdraw from friends or family, or lose interest in activities that used to be enjoyable to you.
What is mental illness?
Mental illness is a general term for types of mental health challenges that affect thoughts, emotions, behaviors, and your ability to function in daily life. People facing one of these challenges feel distressed regularly and may not feel in control of their life.
Mental illness is not the same as feeling sad, unhappy or stressed because of difficult situations – like job loss or a breakup. Although, major life events like these and others can contribute to mental illness. For example, someone dealing with cancer could develop depression. Or someone facing discrimination could develop post-traumatic stress disorder.
Signs of mental illness
Symptoms can vary. A person may experience intense symptoms everyday, or more mild symptoms once a week. They may:
Stop doing things they normally enjoy, pull away from friends or family, or feel numb.
Increase their substance use or start using new substances (e.g., drinking alcohol, smoking, or using drugs).
Sleep more or less than normal.
Eat more or less than normal.
Have big moods swings; feel more upset, angry or scared than normal.
Have strange thoughts or hear voices.
What can I do for my mental health?
Be kind to yourself. Acknowledge where you are at in your mental health journey.
If you feel consistently down, anxious, or generally “off”, this may be a sign to find support. Everyone is different, and you may not be sure if what you’re experiencing is a mental health challenge. Talking to a friend or family member can help. Or find support from: