Mental health is a state of mental well-being that enables people to cope with the stresses of life, realize their abilities, learn well and work well, and contribute to their community. Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Poor mental health and mental illness are not the same. A person can experience poor mental health and not be diagnosed with a mental illness. Likewise, a person diagnosed with a mental illness can experience periods of physical, mental, and social well-being.

The importance of mental health

Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.

Mental and physical health are equally important components of overall health. For example, depression increases the risk of many types of physical health problems, particularly long-lasting conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. Similarly, the presence of chronic conditions can increase the risk of mental illness. Mental health is important because it can help you to:

  • Cope with the stresses of life
  • Be physically healthy
  • Have good relationships
  • Make meaningful contributions to your community
  • Work productively
  • Realize your full potential.

Mental health can affect daily living, relationships, and physical health. Looking after mental health can preserve a person’s ability to enjoy life. Doing this involves balancing life activities, responsibilities, and efforts to achieve psychological resilience. Stress, depression, and anxiety can all affect mental health and disrupt a person’s routine.

Who is at risk

Everyone is at some risk of developing a mental health disorder, regardless of age, sex, income, or ethnicity. Social and financial circumstances, adverse childhood experiences, biological factors, and underlying medical conditions can all shape a person’s mental health.

Some types of mental health disorders

We will be looking at a few types because of time. Specific mental disorders are grouped together due to the features they have in common. Some types of mental illness are as follows:

  • Anxiety Disorders - anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness. Some symptoms include; restlessness, fatigue, poor concentration, tense muscles, and interrupted sleep.

Under this, we will be talking about phobias - Phobias are deeply personal, and doctors do not know every type.

There could be thousands of phobias, and what may seem unusual to one person can be a severe problem that dominates daily life for another.

There are different types of phobia:

  • Simple phobias: These may involve a disproportionate fear of specific objects, scenarios, or animals. A fear of spiders is a typical example.
  • Social phobia: Sometimes known as social anxiety, this is a fear of being subject to the judgment of others. People with social phobia often restrict their exposure to social environments.
  • Agoraphobia: This term refers to a fear of situations where getting away may be difficult, such as being in an elevator or a moving train. Many people misunderstand this phobia as the fear of being outside.

Mood disorders - can also be termed depressive disorders

People with these conditions have significant mood changes, generally involving either mania, a period of high energy and joy, or depression. Examples of mood disorders include:

  • Major depression: An individual with major depression experiences a constant low mood and loses interest in activities and events that they previously enjoyed. They can feel prolonged periods of sadness or extreme sadness.
  • Bipolar disorder: a person with bipolar disorder experiences unusual changes in their mood, energy levels, levels of activity, and ability to continue with daily life. Periods of high mood are known as manic phases, while depressive phases bring on low mood.
  • Schizophrenia disorder - this is a highly complex condition that develops between the ages of 16 and 30. The individual will have thoughts that appear fragmented and may also find it hard to process information. Schizophrenia has negative and positive symptoms. Positive symptoms include delusions, thought disorders, and hallucinations, while withdrawal, lack of motivation, and a flat or inappropriate mood are examples of negative symptoms.

Mental Illness

More than 50% will be diagnosed with a mental illness or disorder at some point in their lifetime. Now that is a global record, but with what is happening in Nigeria, over 80% will be diagnosed with mental illness, especially depression.

There is no single cause for mental illness but there are some factors that can contribute to the risk of mental illness, such as:

  • Early adverse life experiences, such as trauma, or a history of abuse (for example, child abuse, sexual assault, witnessing violence, etc.)
  • Experiences related to other ongoing (chronic) medical conditions, such as cancer or diabetes
  • Biological factors or chemical imbalances in the brain
  • Use of alcohol or drugs
  • Having feelings of loneliness or isolation.

What to do

  1. Talk to a therapist
  2. Don't bottle up any issue - voice it out or write it down by getting a journal
  3. Be active - engage in exercise
  4. Practice charity - learn to help in any little way, it's relieving.
  5. Take good care of yourself by practising self-care - take yourself out, buy yourself a gift, etc
  6. Connect with positive people
  7. Don't joke with your sleep
  8. Practice forgiveness - it makes you feel light
  9. Take time to laugh - laughter is therapeutical. Watch comedy movies and read skits.