What is Mental Health?: An Introduction

Mental health is a key facet of our lives and critical to being successful

What is mental health?

Very simply, mental health refers to our mental well-being. It is a combination of our physical, emotional, behavioural, and social states. How we feel about our lives, how we deal with everyday problems, our relationships with people around us, are all dictated by our mental health.

Attitude towards mental health in India

Anyone who grew up in Indian society knows that it is a taboo topic. People talk about it in hushed tones. Moreover, people who suffer from related issues are also stereotyped negatively. People start thinking differently about us when they hear that we are experiencing mental health issues.

Mental wellbeing has for long been a very taboo topic in India
Individuals coping with mental health troubles rarely get attention they deserve

Poor mental health is on the rise in India and the world

The rise of virtual communication and social media have increased isolation and loneliness for people. People are not connecting with each other in deep, meaningful ways. Instead, youngsters especially, have started comparing their lives with the glamorous pictures they see of celebrities and other friends. We all do this at some point, forgetting that what people post on social media is very rarely real.

Mental health vs. mental illness

Poor mental health is too often confused with mental illnesses or disorders. Let’s understand the difference between the two.

  • one’s emotions
  • one’s thoughts and feelings
  • one’s ability to solve problems and overcome difficulties
  • one’s social connections
  • one’s understanding of the world around
Various components of Mental Wellbeing
  • bipolar disorder
  • anxiety and panic
  • trauma
  • eating disorders
  • personality disorders
  • addiction to drugs or alcohol

Remember: Health is not an ON/OFF switch

When it comes to physical health, we don’t always make blanket statements like: “I am healthy” or “I am unhealthy.” We may be healthy most of the time. But at some time we may catch the flu or be down with an upset stomach. We may break our arm or leg. We may even contract a serious disease and need to be hospitalized, or we may need surgery for a problem related to our internal organs.

Physical and Mental health are less like On/Off switches, and lie more on a range
Physical and Mental health are less like On/Off switches, and lie more on a range

In a nutshell

Given the reality of the complex world we live in today, we are all constantly swinging from left to right as far as our mental balance goes. Feeling upset because of life’s challenges doesn’t mean that we have poor mental health. If there is a death of a close one or a job loss, we are bound to feel sad and grieve.

The Mental Health Pendulum

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