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What is Mental Health?

"Mental Health" is often associated with negativity as our minds think about 'mental illness' or 'mental ill health', which has produced a stigma around talking about mental health. However, we all have mental health, it encompasses a far broader spectrum than just 'mental illness'.

Mental health is on a sliding scale, we can all have good mental health, or bad mental health, or somewhere in between. Mental health can change every day, sometimes hour on hour depending on what is happening in our lives at that time.

It's perfectly normal to feel a whole range of emotions - from confusion and sadness to amusement and happiness.

Good mental health isn’t something that is talked about as much as negative or poor mental health. Good mental health, according to the World Health Organisation, is defined as a state of well-being where individuals are able to: realise their own potential, work productively, cope with the normal stresses of life and make a contribution to their community.

When someone is mentally healthy, they are able to cope with usual life changes and fluctuations of moods and emotions. This includes being able to cope with the things that life throws at us, any changes and/or uncertainty that might may happen. Having good mental health doesn’t mean you have to be constantly happy or have a ‘perfect’ life.

Mental Illness

As we know, everyone has mental health, however 1 in 4 of us do experience mental illness. Anyone can develop a mental illness, it does not discriminate by age, gender, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, culture etc.

Mental illness occurs when our emotions go beyond what is expected that people should normally be able to cope with, and this happens at either end of the sliding scale, from low emotions such as depression, or heightened emotions such as mania.

Mental illness can affect a person's entire world, from the way they think and feel to the ways they behave and act, and even interact with other people. Mental illness can change a persons perception of the world and therefore change the way they interact with the world.

Having a mental illness doesn't mean that person won't every feel mentally healthy, a mental illness can come and go, some people choose medication, some illnesses require medication, and sometimes people can learn to manage it or understand their triggers and have coping mechanisms to get them through the lower periods of their lives.

Anyone diagnosed with a mental illness will have different signs and symptoms, different triggers, and different life experiences that may have attributed to it. Because everyone reacts to mental illness differently there is a large range of signs and symptoms, if you think you or someone you know may be struggling with mental health, the following symptoms could be a warning sign;

- Having little to no energy

- Isolating yourself

- Eating or sleeping too much or too little

- Feeling hopeless, helpless, like nothing matters

- Unexplained aches and pains

- Smoking, drinking or using drugs, or doing more than usual

- Feeling unusually forgetful, confused, on edge, teary, worried or scared

- Unable to perform normal daily tasks

- Severe mood swings

- Not looking after yourself, self-neglect, or unable to look after your dependent/s

- Persistent thoughts and feelings that you can’t stop

- Hearing voices or believing things that aren’t true

- Thoughts of harm, or actual self-harm

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