DR. NEAL HOUSTON

Adult Integrative/Behavioral Health Specialist

The Life Therapy Group®™ Mental Health & Life Wellness Site

MJA Healthcare Network

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WHILE OFFERING AFFORDABLE INDIVIDUALIZED SERVICES FOR EFFECTIVE TREATMENT.

Friday, July 12, 2013

MENTAL HEALTH BASICS


The term mental health is commonly used in reference to mental illness. However, knowledge in the field has progressed to a level that appropriately differentiates the two. Although mental health and mental illness are related, they represent different psychological states.


What Is Mental Health?

Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.

Over the course of your life, if you experience mental health problems, your thinking, mood, and behavior could be affected. Many factors contribute to mental health problems, including: 
  • Biological factors, such as genes or brain chemistry
  • Life experiences, such as trauma or abuse
  • Family history of mental health problems
  • Mental health problems are common but help is available. People with mental health problems can get better and many recover completely.

 Mental health is “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.”  It is estimated that only about 17% of U.S adults are considered to be in a state of optimal mental health. There is emerging evidence that positive mental health is associated with improved health outcomes.

Mental illness is defined as “collectively all diagnosable mental disorders” or “health conditions that are characterized by alterations in thinking, mood, or behavior (or some combination thereof) associated with distress and/or impaired functioning.”  Depression is the most common type of mental illness, affecting more than 26% of the U.S. adult population.  It has been estimated that by the year 2020, depression will be the second leading cause of disability throughout the world, trailing only  ischemic heart disease (IHD), or myocardial ischemia (a painful heart condition caused by lack of blood flow to the heart)
  • Evidence has shown that mental disorders, especially depressive disorders, are strongly related to the occurrence and course many chronic diseases including diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease, asthma, and obesity and many risk behaviors for chronic disease; such as, physical inactivity, smoking, excessive drinking, and insufficient sleep.

 Mental Health Indicators:
In the health care and public health arena, more emphasis and resources have been devoted to screening, diagnosis, and treatment of mental illness in mental health. Little has been done to protect the mental health of those free of mental illness. Researchers suggest that there are indicators of mental health, representing three domains. These include the following:
  • Emotional well-being: such as perceived life satisfaction, happiness, cheerfulness, peacefulness.
  • Psychological well-being: such as self-acceptance, personal growth including openness to new experiences, optimism, hopefulness, purpose in life, control of one’s environment, spirituality, self-direction, and positive relationships.
  • Social well-being: social acceptance, beliefs in the potential of people and society as a whole, personal self-worth and usefulness to society, sense of community.

The former surgeon general notes that there are social determinants of mental health as there are social determinants of general health that need to be in place to support good mental health. These include adequate housing, safe neighborhoods, equitable jobs and wages, quality education, and equity in access to quality health care.

Early Warning Signs:
Not sure if you or someone you know is living with mental health problems? Experiencing one or more of the following feelings or behaviors can be an early warning sign of a problem:
  • Eating or sleeping too much or too little
  • Pulling away from people and usual activities
  • Having low or no energy
  • Feeling numb or like nothing matters
  • Having unexplained aches and pains
  • Feeling helpless or hopeless
  • Smoking, drinking, or using drugs more than usual
  • Feeling unusually confused, forgetful, on edge, angry, upset, worried, or scared
  • Yelling or fighting with family and friends
  • Experiencing severe mood swings that cause problems in relationships
  • Having persistent thoughts and memories you can’t get out of your head
  • Hearing voices or believing things that are not true
  • Thinking of harming yourself or others
  • Inability to perform daily tasks like taking care of your kids or getting to work or school

Mental Health and Wellness
Positive mental health allows people to:
  • Realize their full potential
  • Cope with the stresses of life
  • Work productively
  • Make meaningful contributions to their communities

 Ways to maintain positive mental health include:
  • Getting professional help if you need it
  • Connecting with others
  • Staying positive
  • Getting physically active
  • Helping others
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Developing coping skills




 References:
World Health Organization. Strengthening Mental Health Promotion. Geneva, World Health Organization (Fact sheet no. 220), 2001.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Mental Health: A Report of the Surgeon General. Rockville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Mental Health Services, National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Mental Health, 1999.
Kessler RC, Chiu WT, Demler O, Walters EE.  Prevalence, severity, and comorbidity of 12-month DSM-IV disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication. Arch Gen Psychiatry2005;62:617–627.
Murray CJL, Lopez AD. The Global Burden of Disease: A Comprehensive Assessment of Mortality and Disability from Diseases, Injuries and Risk Factors in 1990 and Projected to 2020.  Geneva, Switzerland;World Health Organization, 1996.
Chapman DP, Perry GS, Strine TW.The vital link between chronic disease and depressive disorders. Prev Chronic Dis 2005;2(1):A14.
Ryff CD, Keyes CLM. The structure of psychological well–being revisited. J Pers Soc Psychol1995;69:719–727.
Ryff CD. Happiness is everything, or is it? Explorations on the meaning of psychological well–being. J Pers Soc Psychol 1989;57:1069–1081.

Keyes CLM. Social well–being. Soc Psychol Quart 1998;61:121–140.