Mental Health Basics

Mental health is something that a lot of people tend to ignore. They don’t think about it until they encounter some problems connected to it, or when their family or friends fall victim to some mental health issue. Mental health is just as important as physical health and this is something that people should recognize.

Mental Health and Mental Illness

In the past mental health actually came to be identified with mental illness and the two terms came to be accepted as referring to the same thing. In recent years, the difference between the two became more identified. Mental health is now understood to be the state of well-being of a person under which he/she can work and give out the best results. A positive mental health is generally seen to be beneficial to physical health as well. Unfortunately, less than a fifth of all adults in the United States are perceived to be in their optimal mental health.

Mental illness on the other hand refers to all disorders and diseases that affect the thinking, behavior and the mood of a person. Depression is by far the most common of all mental disorders and it is estimated that it affects one-fourth of all American adults. There are more serious mental illnesses than depression.

Indicators of Mental Health

What are the things which can be used as a measurement to see if a person has a good mental health? There are several indicators. The first one is emotional well-being. This is the measure of how well-adjusted a person is. If a person is satisfied with his/her life, peaceful, cheerful and generally happy, then it could be said that the person has good mental health. Psychological well-being is the measure of one is able to accept changes and things in life as they come. Social well-being refers to the way that a person interacts with others and how that person finds his/her spot on a social level.

What You Need to Know about Mental Illness

We have mentioned that mental illness is any disease that affects the thinking and the behavior of a person. There is still a great deal that is now known when it comes to these types of illness. The symptoms for the various mental health problems can vary widely. Some are quite mild while others are intense. The usual effect is that an individual is unable to cope with the complications of daily life because of the illness.

Causes of Mental Illness

One of the keys in understanding a disease is to find out what has actually caused it. Once the cause of the disease is known it would be a lot easier to treat it. But that is just of the difficulties that would have to be faced when it comes to mental illnesses. For the most part it is still unclear as to what actually causes these illnesses. Through research it has now been determined that there are several factors which can affect mental diseases . Here are some of those factors:


Genetics or heredity is most probably the most prominent factor of mental illness that could be mentioned. If you ask anyone about what they suppose are the major factors that affect mental illness, genetics would likely be at the very top or at least very near it. That’s what people usually think about or associate the most whenever mental illness is mentioned or discussed.

And the fact is that there are plenty of mental illnesses that actually run in families, being passed through generations. It is really passed through the genes, from parents and onto their children, and so forth. This happens because genes possess the set of instructions on how our cells should actually function. It is responsible for the way we act, think, how we look, etc. This does not necessarily mean, though, that because one of the parents of a certain individual has mental illness, then he would also get it. The fact that genetics is a factor in mental illness means that you are more likely to get the condition than if none of your parents had any history of it.

Mental illness is believed to be connected to problems that present in multiple genes. This is a departure from other diseases which usually involve only one. This is also the explanation why even though a person inherits the likelihood of being afflicted with the illness; it does not necessarily mean that he is actually going to develop it. There are other factors involved, which usually interact with those genes – like psychological trauma as well as other stressors. Those would all serve to combine and eventually trigger the outbreak of the illness in an individual.

Psychological Trauma

A person who has suffered severe psychological trauma is likely to develop mental illness as well. The types of psychological trauma that are likely to lead to the development of severe mental illness usually has its roots in the individual’s childhood – his early years and even his teenage years. It could be brought about by severe emotional abuse that was suffered as a child, which could really scar the individual for the rest of his life as well as trigger mental illness later on.

Then there is also the physical kind of abuse that is also likely to have the same kind of effect. Not only would there probably be scars that would linger as serve as a reminder of the abuse, but the chances of developing mental illness is also there because of it. It might not seem like an obvious cause of mental issues, but if a child experiences neglect from his loved ones – particularly the parents – then it can also lead to problems later on in life. If the child also happened to have experienced a painful loss – or several – in his young life then could also be a factor. The loss of a parent or both parents could severely affect the emotional and psychological make-up of any child, leading to mental health issues.


Biology could never be discounted as a factor when dealing with mental illness. There are mental illnesses that have been traced to the imbalance of brain chemicals that are known as neurotransmitters. Its function is to help the nerve cells found within the brain to communicate. When the balance between these chemicals is disruptive then it can result in changes in behaviour and in the way that a person would act. Another biological cause of mental illnesses are defects and injuries that are sustained by the brain. Inflammation of the brain has also been linked and connected with the development of mental problems.


The environment within which a person is living in can also be a strong factor when it comes to the development of mental health issues. A dysfunctional family setting has always been identified as one of the causes for a person to develop a disruptive type of behaviour eventually. Criminally insane suspects are often been found to have been found to be products of abnormal family environments. Stressful environmental situations like the death of a loved one or going through a divorce and also become environmental factors for developing mental problems.

Preventing Mental Illness

One question that a lot of people are asking about mental illness is whether it can be prevented. Unfortunately, the answer is no. Because mental illnesses are caused by several factors and not just a single one, it would almost be impossible to actually prevent it. A person can have a tendency to have a mental illness because of genetics, but it might be triggered by environmental factors or biological ones.

Treatment of Mental Illness

There are several ways of treating mental illnesses. The method used would depend on the kind of illness and its severity. There are certain medications that can be used for certain mental problems. There are drugs for example that can be sued for treating depression. Those drugs can be used to try and elevate the feeling of the patient. Each mental illness would require a different type of medication and it is important that these medications should only be used under the guidance of doctors.

Psychotherapy can also be used for treating mental problems. There are two types of psychotherapy that can be used now, these are the individual and the group. In psychotherapy, the patient would try to open up with his issues and the professional would listen and take note of the problems that become evident from what the patient is saying. The same thing is true with group therapy, but this time the one on one setting is abandoned.

Hospital treatment can also be used especially for severe mental disorders. In this case the patient is institutionalized and undergoes a variety of treatment within the hospital setting. There are also other forms of treatment that are more specific and targeted.

Mental health is just as important to use as our physical health. That’s why we should pay as much attention to it and never put it on the side-lines because doing so can cause problems to us in the long run.