What is mental health? A quick Google search populates the following response from Wikipedia: “Mental health is the level of psychological well-being or an absence of mental illness. It is the state of someone who is "functioning at a satisfactory level of emotional and behavioral adjustment.”
But what does this mean and is it a worthy explanation?
Let’s first interpret this definition: the essential foundation of this definition is stating that one is mentally healthy as long as they do not have a diagnosis attached to their medical history with the caveat that they are living their day to day life in a “satisfactory” manner. This definition is appropriate to a very limited extent and is likely the general understanding of most people. It is very common for people to assume that someone they know or even a family member has “good mental health” as long as they are not on medications or do not have day to day behavioral issues. But therein lies the problem; someone’s mental health can be significantly impacted, even impaired, and no one would know because it yields limited to no behavioral response.
Mental health is very complex and delicate. Importantly, it primarily includes how we think and feel. As most people know, mental health carries a heavy and negative stigma due to the dark historical past of how those with diagnoses were treated and managed. For example, people were placed into asylums, subjected to experimental treatments, and more recently placed into prisons, jails, and state hospitals. To be someone with a “mental illness” likely means you will be subjected to rejection, harassment, and isolation. Therefore, in terms of defining mental health, it is easy for others to assume that people are in good mental health standing just based on someone’s ability to hold a job, have friends, and live an apparently normal life. However, that is not always true and in fact, according to 2017 statistics from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) 1 in 5 U.S. adults suffer from a mental illness (approximately 47 million).
According to these numbers, nearly every American should know someone who struggles with mental health. But who are they and why can’t we easily identify them? The short and sweet response is because most people do not understand the nuances of mental health and the symptoms associated. Many symptoms revolve around feelings and thoughts that people keep to themselves for which they do not seek help. Most of these thoughts and feelings start off as manageable and simple but that also grow and worsen with time. These thoughts and feelings are best managed proactively with professional help. For example, someone could check in with a counselor or clinician a few times a year or even once a year for a check-up/check-in. Much like an annual physical, it is beneficial to perform an annual mental health check-up. If you are unsure what mental health symptoms to be aware of, then we recommend following mental health organizations on social media platforms, call local providers, or visit websites like: https://www.mentalhealth.gov/basics/what-is-mental-health
Vitalize Behavioral Health and Psychometrics employs numerous licensed mental health professionals who are ready and willing to work with you to discuss mental health, complete check-ins, or help you manage your mental health more routinely. Call or visit our website today for more information.