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What is Mental Health – Key Concepts in Mental Health

Definition

Mental health is defined as a state or condition on which an individual feels a sense of well-being. This gives him or her the capacity to live life in fulfillment of what he or she wants to achieve in accordance to the available resources.

This condition also provides an individual the capacity to be resilient to the stresses he meets and to respond to these challenges without having to compromise his well- being. This also makes him productive and fruitful for himself and his community.

Mental wellness could also be defined as the lack of mental problems or disorders. People who do not present diagnosable behaviors that could qualify as a mental disorder are seen as mentally healthy. For example, someone who has an obsession on things may not necessarily have a mental disorder like obsession.

Thus he is said to have mental wellness. But when this obsession is combined with unrelenting compulsion to do the object of obsession, the person may already be diagnosed with a mental disorder called Obsessive-compulsive Disorder or OCD.

It could also be seen as a positive element in an individual’s personality which makes it possible to enhance mental wellness regardless of a diagnosable mental disorder.

This definition covers a person’s capacity to “live life to the fullest”, to respond well to his environment through the conscious or unconscious use of coping mechanisms and to be able to balance emotional as well as psychological well-being in relation to constant flow of experiences.

Mental Health Across Culture

The World Health Organization believes that there is no single definition for mental health due to differences in culture. What could be mentally healthy (or acceptable behavior) in one culture may present something too eccentric in another.

For example, cannibalistic behavior in some tribes living in remote areas is highly regarded as a religious practice however, in the majority of urbanized world this could be seen as barbaric or insane.

Disruption in Mental Health

Abnormalities in mental health could lead to a number of problems with various representations. Some people with mental illnesses have aggressive behaviors while others are withdrawn and lack social interest.

Each type of disorder has its own signs and symptoms therefore; diagnosis as well as treatment vary depending on the nature of the mental heath problem.

There are several factors that disrupt mental health including: environment or upbringing, biological make-up of a person, pre-programmed instructions in the genes, medical disorders, traumatic experiences such as loss and abuse and substance abuse.

While one factor could be dominant than the other, all of these are contributors to the development of the majority of mental health disorders.

In some cases, a single factor may be sufficient to trigger the disorder but the majority of disorders require an accumulation of experience that constantly challenge the well-being of a person.

What preserves mental health?

The preservation of mental health is highly dependent on the capacity of the person to

  • blend in his environment and handle its stresses
  • achieve a good internal balance in his personality that is sufficient to give a stable character and
  • create a good perspective that would limit the damages of negative experiences.

For some people a good support system such as a sympathetic family or a strong social group may work well to safeguard mental health.

What is Social Anxiety

Social anxiety disorder symptoms can vary. Some individuals may only suffer from a specific fear such as eating or drinking, speaking, or writing if others are around or watching. Some people have a fear or going to the bathroom in a public restroom. Other people are fearful in all social situations and are never comfortable.

The normal daily activities that most people take for granted are so horrifying and worrisome it can be physically debilitating. This illness can cause people to miss work or school if they fear they will have to get up and be seen or noticed.



Many persons with social phobia may have problems with relationships and can find it very difficult to meet and keep friends.

Even when the person has friends they may not be able to enjoy going out with them or being with them in large crowds of other people who might be less known.

Five of the most common symptoms are:

  • Blushing often in social situations.
  • Profuse sweating when anxious.
  • Trembling when approached or spoke to.
  • Nausea as anxiety increases and possibly vomiting.
  • Extreme difficulty talking.

This disorder affects approximately 5.3 million American adults with men and women being affected equally.

Social phobia usually starts to develop in childhood or the early teens. There is belief that social anxiety disorder can also be hereditary so if a family member has it you are at a higher risk of developing it.

Because of the nature and the severity of the anxiety people with this disorder have a higher risk of self-medicating with drugs and alcohol to try to relax and calm down.

This only leads to worse problems and possibly addiction. To treat this disease one needs to see a doctor and seek psychotherapy and/or medications.

The Types of Depression

Depression can take many forms. Seasonal affective disorder, clinical depression, and bipolar depression and postpartum depression are all commonly diagnosed types of depression.

Conditions such as substance abuse or an eating disorder may be confused with depression, and can make any form of depression rather hard to diagnose. Other conditions can worsen a case of depression.

The following are some very common forms of depression.

One of the major types of depression is bipolar depression (also known as manic depressive illness). Bipolar depression is commonly recognized as someone experiencing being overly happy, then suddenly becoming horribly depressed.

One of the major types of depression that women are known to suffer from is postpartum depression. This takes place right after giving birth to a baby.

A common subtype of depression is seasonal affective disorder. This form of depression seems to be tied to the way people react to the amount of sunlight that is available to them each day.

A very serious form of the many types of depression is psychotic depression. Those that suffer from psychotic depression very often hallucinate.

This is one of the most dangerous types of depression and often there is a need for someone else to jump in and help.

People that seem to be suffering constantly from a mild form of depression are likely to be suffering from dysthymia.

Another of the many types of depression that are very commonly suffered by women is atypical depression.

Experiencing things like panic attacks, overeating, and sleeping disturbances commonly mark this form of depression.

No matter which one of the many types of depression you might be suffering from, knowing the difference between them is the best way to get the best possible treatment.

Discuss any signs of depression with your doctor and work with him to find the treatment that is best suited for you.

The Most Common Obsessive-Compulsive Behaviors

When people are obsessed at avoiding being dirty or contaminated, they frequently wash their hands and feet, clean and bathe their bodies.

They do not feel comfortable about bodily waste and urinating because these procedures are often disgusting to look at or experience.

They also feel extremely and unreasonably anxious about contracting dreadful illnesses in almost any setting.

Some people always want to live in extremely neat surroundings. While they’re not that obsessed about getting sick from dirt, they do care very much about their appearances.

They always want to look and feel clean. They are perfectionists when it comes to ordering and aligning objects. They can spend hours just to obtain the precise positioning of their things.

Some people become obsessed about saving things for future use are incapable of throwing any object, even a piece of candy wrapper, in fear of throwing something that could prove useful or necessary in the future.

These people are uncaring about the neatness of their surroundings or the order of their possessions. All they care to do is stash everything they can. People suffering from this particular OCD may also be meticulous about that object goes where.

A person may develop OCD symptoms on certain habits or actions for no reason at all. When this happens, they become obsessed at performing these tasks over and over.

It could be something as silly as repeating questions several times or counting money repeatedly before handing it over.

With proper therapy, affected individuals will learn to cope with OCD symptoms and accept that the disorder is there to stay until an effective cure is created. As a last note, you must keep in mind that an individual can develop OCD symptoms about anything.

Hence, lists of OCD symptoms will only give you at best an idea of general areas that individuals may have OCD tendencies about.

Tips on Taking Care of Mental Health

Mental health issues affect nearly 15{07965d1a73f172391d248434f2d27e2a2315fb5c95eb3ba6629368cfee7d254a} of the population. This data can be alarming, considering that 2/3 of those diagnosed with mental disorder remains untreated. While mental disorders are sometimes caused by chemical imbalance in the brain, some of these are caused by the experiences that we need to deal with, such as death of a loved one or some other tragic or traumatic experience.

Hence, the goal is to maintain a good or positive mental health, where one is able to take control of his life and able to cope with any and all situations that come his way. Here are some tips on taking care of mental health.

Always stay happy. This may sound vague, but there are many ways to stay happy. Remain positive and optimistic. Look at the bright side of life always.



So how do we stay happy? First, we must learn to balance our time. After a busy day or week, take time to relax. Do something pleasurable with your friends or family. It can be a hobby, sport or a simple activity.

Aside from balancing our time, we must also manage time well. To minimize stress, make a schedule of the things you will do, and stick to it.

Be tolerant of others. All of us are different in many ways, so we must learn to accept each other’s ideas and opinion, even if it differs from our own. Learn to accept the weaknesses and shortcomings of others. Once we learn to accept, there is a lesser chance of conflict, which can be stressful and frustrating.

Spend time with your family and friends. Find time to talk to someone, even if you don’t make sense at all! What is important is the act of sharing your experiences, worries or problems with somebody.

You must also learn to listen to their worries for them to feel better. In effect, not only have you helped yourself but you’ve helped your friend too.

Maintain a healthy lifestyle. You know the basics. Eat healthy food always. Exercise regularly. Sleep well. Avoid drugs and alcohol. Quit smoking. Avoid doing strenuous activities. Take time to rest.

Sadly, though, depression and other mental disorders affect children and the young. Parents have an important role in the child’s mental health. Parents must learn to communicate with their kids and at the same time listen to them.

In their dealings, let the kid feel appreciated always. Acknowledge their strengths instead of focusing on their weaknesses.

Their coping abilities must also be developed. If they commit mistakes, explain so they will learn from them. Allow them to develop a sense of responsibility by letting them solve problems as well as make decisions. Teach them the importance of discipline and self-worth. Discipline them without making them feel unloved or unworthy.

Lastly, accept them for who they are. With acceptance comes love, respect, and everything else.

The key to taking care of mental health is being happy and in control of our lives. Once we know how to take control, we are able to cope with any and all situations that come our way.

Being happy is not just a one-time event – it is a lifestyle. Stay positive always. Learn to find joy in the simple miracles of life. And be grateful for each wonderful day.

Taking Control of Mental Illness

We are told that mental illnesses occur because of our genes, our upbringing, our personality, our temperament, our lifestyle and we can do nothing about them. Stress or no stress, we are told, if we have all these factors loaded in our personal history, we are prone to have a mental illness. Some psychiatrists adhere to this belief strongly.

This belief is then put across as the “gospel truth” of science. Naturally, this brings up a sense of low self-esteem and helplessness in the person who is suffering with the illness.

We are then made to believe that medications are man-made answers to mental illness, which is a curse of nature.

The whole area of mental illness is about losing a sense of freedom. When we find ourselves bound to emotional issues of our life, that we cannot rid ourselves of, we lose our freedom of thinking. This creates stress in our mind and our body bears the brunt of it.

This loss of freedom brings up a sense of fear or a sense of helplessness. Both such feelings bring up a sense of insecurity.

People lose confidence in their own worth. Self-esteem becomes low. With lack of confidence and low self-esteem, comes poor decision-making.

A person suffers with all these conditions when suffering with a mental illness. When a mentally ill person goes to seek help – confidence, self-esteem and sense of freedom are already lost.

Instead of helping the person become independent, there is a tendency to make the person dependent on medication.

Medication plays its role in controlling the condition or state of illness. It does nothing to improve the quality of life permanently.

To improve their quality of life, the person needs to take responsibility for their own well being.

We live in a free society. The freedom to suffer is also one kind of freedom. We also have the freedom to look for answers to minimize our suffering.

Symptoms of Post-traumatic stress disorder

During World War Two, a strange phenomenon called “Battle Fatigue” affected many veterans after they returned home from combat zones in Europe and the Pacific.

Today, we know this condition to be “post-traumatic stress disorder“. Back then, returning veterans didn’t talk about it, because discussing these worrisome symptoms suggested weakness or cowardice.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a medical disorder that can occur to anyone after experiencing an extremely stressful situation.

Soldiers aren’t the only ones to suffer from this condition. Natural disaster survivors, as well as those who have experienced and survived attacks and accidents, also suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder. Twice as many women are affected than men.

A victim may experience one of many symptoms: A flashback or nightmare, a feeling of detachment, loss of interest in activities or a lack of positive emotion, avoidance of anything (activities, people or situations) associated with the trauma, difficulty sleeping, irritability and exaggerated responses to being startled.

Many people exhibit roller coaster feelings or emotions after a traumatic experience, but for most, such symptoms normally fade after a few weeks.

Nevertheless, recognizing the early signs and symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder is important, as it can incur long-lasting consequences for those who suffer from it.

Physiological changes that occur in victims have a brutal affect on both neurobiological functions such as memory, as well as fear-response reactions.

Sleeping habits and the ability to deal with any stress can be disrupted. Physical complaints can range from headaches, to immune system disruption, debilitating pain, and in some cases, asthma.

Depression and a sense of growing anxiety can lead to phobias, panic attacks and behavioral changes. If you feel that someone you know is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, it’s extremely important that he or she get help. It will not go away by itself.

Understanding Single Parent Psychology and Mental Health

Extramarital pregnancy, divorce, and abandonment of one parent are some reasons why there are single parents. What most people don’t know is, these occurrences are life-changing as they can be traumatic for the single parent and the child, making them often misunderstood. That makes the study of a single parent’s psychology and mental health important.

Studies have reported that there are more child and adolescent problems for households with single parents rather than those with the “normal” set-up. While most single parents may disagree, it is understandable why the statistics say so.

For one, a single parent has limited time in his hands. Managing a household with another person is difficult in itself. What more if you have to do it alone. That’s why it is important for a single parent to make a daily or weekly schedule of his activities. That way, he can find time to do all the things that need to be done, including some time off for leisure and relaxation.

Also, a parent may have financial problems, as he is the only one earning for the family. He must learn to save his money by learning to set aside a portion of it as it comes. Also, he must learn to make a few sure investments.

Of course, if one becomes a single parent because of a divorce or death of the spouse, there are more problems that he needs to face. It is normal for him to feel sad or depressed, so allow him to have some time to grieve. Friends can help in the moving on process. This is also devastating for the child, so the parent must learn to show his support to the child instead of focusing on his grief alone. Parent and child can help each other to shorten grieving time.

Lastly, the single parent may feel alone and rejected. So he must learn to nurture himself. Eat and sleep well. Exercise on a regular basis, or engage in a sport that you like. Join a church group or association in your community.

To minimize incidence of child problems like school dropouts, early pregnancy and juvenile behavior, a single parent must learn to communicate well with his child. Spend more quality time with him. Engage in an activity that you both can enjoy. Regularly monitor his progress in school.

What resources are available for the single parent? He may join a group or organization of single parents like him. In this venue, members can share and discuss their common problems and experiences such as coping with divorce and raising kids. Educational activities like lectures by professionals and training seminars as well as other recreational activities are organized to help the single parent cope with his situation.

There are also websites which support single parents. Many parent resources can be found in the internet like chat rooms, forums, newsletters, articles and other forms of literature that they can share.

Knowing single parent psychology and mental health will make us understand single parents and their children better. Being a single parent is a challenging job. With limited time and finances, he has to cope with the challenge of raising a child as well. But with tolerance and understanding from people around him, the job will not be as difficult as it is already.

Remembering the Terror

A form of anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is sometimes formed after someone has experienced a very terrifying ordeal, usually where serious physical damage could or did occur to the person involved.

Events that can trigger PTSD to occur include violent attacks on people e.g. muggings, rape, human caused or natural disasters, and military combat. Once someone has PTSD they often find it to be hugely disabling.

In terms of PTSD symptoms, those affected tend to re-experience the worst parts of their horrible past in the form of memory flashbacks and nightmares/ frightening thoughts.

Other symptoms of PTSD are numbness to emotions, depression, poor sleeping ability, anxiety, and outbursts of anger and general irritability. Powerful emotions of guilt are also common. If symptoms like these endure for over one month PTSD can then be diagnosed.

PTSD can affect any age, from children right through to the elderly. Symptoms are likely to show themselves within three months of a particular traumatic event.

Once apparent this illnesses duration and severity are variable, lasting from just six months to many years.

Other problems can sometime become associated with PTSD, e.g. alcoholism, substance abuse, co-occurring depression and other types of anxiety disorder.

Gastrointestinal complaints, dizziness, problems with the patient’s immune system, headaches or chest pains, amongst numerous other possible bodily ailments are not unusual.

What is important is that quick, effective diagnosis and treatment of these conditions occurs, so as to provide the best chance of treatment success..

Individuals more open to developing PTSD are those that have suffered abuse when a child or people who’ve undergone highly traumatic experiences.

Today’s society is becoming increasingly terror-filled. Research has made treatment of this disorder more available.

It is possible that in the near future, a standardized treatment model will be produced that can end the suffering of many who suffer PTSD.

3 Major Focuses of Recovery for Optimized Mental Health

Focus on the Individual

The focus of recovery should be on the person or the individual and not the process of treatment. There is a constant shift in the manners by which people suffering from psychological disorders are being treated.

During the past centuries, due partly to the drive to establish more reliable and effective treatment methods, most mental health professionals fail to focus on the process occurring in a patient, the changes he is undergoing throughout the treatment and the improvements that are associated with the treatment.

Instead, the common point for most practitioners is the process of treatment itself- whether or not one treatment is more effective than the other or whether or not a specific therapy could actually work for all patients.

It is a good thing that mental illnesses are viewed now from the sufferer’s perspectives rather than the technicalities of the treatment or therapy. Individuals have various presentations of a mental disorder. Thus needing individualized forms of recovery treatments that are curtailed to the person’s preferences, unique characteristics such as resiliency, strengths and weaknesses, cultural background and experiences.

Focus on the Community

It should be grounded on peer support – External support is invaluable in the process of recovery. Knowing that there are other people who, like the patient, also struggle to achieve the state of well being they want to achieve. It helps for them to know that there are people who cares for them, who wants to see them gain back their life and who shares the same sufferings as they do.

There should exist a mental health support group that would guide and enlighten the patients with the reality of the psychological disorder. This also provides the mutual support that is needed in gaining skills and knowledge on the disorder which is a contributory factor towards improvement.

Focus on Issues Surrounding Mental Wellness

It should be well-directed – A direction set by both the mental health providers and the patient should be prepared during the initial stage of recovery. The patient determines the pace of healing while the mental health professional facilitate the direction.

It should be non-linear – This perspective adheres to the belief that a recovery process is both an end and a process. It is not the usual step-by-step process that has varying levels. In mental health recovery, it is possible that a person who has already overcome the symptoms of a mental disorder could still be troubled by the relapse of the same symptoms. It is, in fact, a trial-and-error process with the promise of development and usual setbacks.

It should be holistic – The concept of holism should be fully integrated into the process of recovery. Recovery from a mental disorder does not only cover specific and separate issues like biological or psychosocial aspects of the disorder. Instead, it affects a person in an extensive manner. Thus recovery should also focus on the micro as well as macro issues surrounding the disorder.

Lastly, the process of recovery should be empowered by hope matched by the motivation and willingness to break free from the mental illness. This could only be achieved when all individual factors – the perspective of the individual and the direction he is taking, the support of external groups such as the family and peers and the right frame of mind.

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