” Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about “

So what is mental health? Mental health can be thought of as successful mental functioning that results in productive activities, fulfilling relationships, and the ability to cope with change and adversity. Another way of saying this is that mental health is indispensable to effective personal functioning, interpersonal and family relationships, and community life.

Change exerts a constant influence on mental health and can be a major source of anxiety for many in their personal and professional lives. Change, by itself, whether for good or not, can be a source of stress and can negatively influence mental health. For example, technological changes continue at an accelerating pace, and while they can be useful to many individuals, they pose a stressful challenge to others.

Advances in health care can positively or negatively affect mental health. For example, older adults today have increased their life and health expectancies compared with the population 10 years ago. That means that those over the age of 65 have fewer physical health concerns. But a decline in mental faculties among an increasing number of aging adults can create significant mental health concerns. For instance, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease were not major health and mental health concerns in the past because relatively few lived past the age of 60.

In the year 1900 there were 120,000 people over age 85, while today there are more than 4 million older adults of that age, making them the fastest-growing age group. The statistics estimates that by 2030 there will be 72 million adults over the age of 65, which represents 20% of the population. Among those 85 and older it is estimated that 50% will be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. The point of these examples is that mental health and mental disorders are influenced by various factors.

Activity Suggestions for a Better Mental Health

(A) Build A Healthy Self-Esteem

Self-esteem is more than just seeing your good qualities. It is being able to see all your abilities and weaknesses together, accepting them, and doing your best with what you have. For example, you may not play tennis well enough to be a star, but that should not stop you from enjoying the game.

Activity- Build Confidence: Take a good look at your good points. What Do you do best? Where are your skills and interest areas? How would a friend describe you? Now, look at your weak points. What do you have difficulty doing? What things make you feel frustrated? Take a look at this list. Remember that all of us have our positive and negative sides. We let our strengths shine, and we build on our weak points to help us mature and grow.

(B) Receive As Well As Give

Many of us confuse having a realistic view of our good points with conceit. We have trouble accepting kindness from others. We often shrug off a compliment with a, “Yes, but…” and put ourselves down.

Activity- Accept Compliments: The next time someone compliments you, say, “Thank you! I’m glad you think so.” Then think about other compliments you have had, and how good they made you feel.

(C) Create Positive Family Relationships

Work on building good family relationships. Learn to value each member’s skills and abilities. Learn how to give and accept support.

Activity- Make Time: Make time just to be a family. Schedule time for both serious things and fun. Listen respectfully without interruption to what each person has to say. Do it frequently.

(D) Make Friends Who Count

Friends help you understand that you are not alone. They help you bysharing your ups and downs, and you in turn help them. Together, you andyour friends share life’s challenges and celebrate life’s joys.

Activity- Build A Friendship Tree: Keep in touch—invite a friend to lunch. Encourage new friendships—ask your friend to bring someone you’ve never met.

(E) Figure Out Your Priorities

Advertisers try very hard to convince us that we “need” their products and services. Our challenge is to know the difference between our real needs (food, shelter, clothing, transportation) and our “wants'” (bigger TV, new CD player, expensive fashions, flashy car), and to find the right balance in our spending. Financial problems cause stress; so it is important to avoid overspending.

Activity- Create A Meaningful Budget: Write out a budget for yourself. Is it realistic? Have you planned what to do with the money left over for your “wants”? Which “wants” are most.

(F) Get Involved

Being involved in things that really matter to us provides a great feeling of purpose and satisfaction. You should always remember that you make a difference, no matter how big or small your efforts.

Activity- Volunteer, ‘Be A Volunteer’: Read to children at your local library; visit an elderly person at home or in hospital; serve on a committee of your favorite charity; organize a clean-up of a local park or beach; help a neighbor clean out his/her garage.

(G) Learn To Manage Stress Effectively

Stress is a normal part of life. How you deal with it will depend on your attitude. You may become overwhelmed by things that other people deal with easily. Learning to keep a balance among work, family and leisure is difficult and needs skillful management of your time. Planning helps, and so does staying calm.

Activity- Take A Five-Minute Vacation: Each day, set aside five minutes for a mental health break. Close your door or go into another room, and day-dream about a place, person or idea, or think about nothing at all! You will feel like you have been on a mini-vacation.

(H) Cope With Changes That Affect You

It would be nice to “live happily ever after”, but real life keeps “throwing monkey-wrenches” at us. Coping with these unexpected (and often unwanted) changes can be stressful. Children have accidents, parents get ill, jobs disappear—we need to be flexible and learn ways to cope.

Activity- Find Strength In Numbers: Search out a support group that deals with the issues you are facing. By teaming up with people who share your problems, you may find a fresh solution. Try starting a group of your own by using the public service announcements in your local newspaper, radio station, or TV station.

(I) Deal With Your Emotions

We are all challenged to find safe and constructive ways to express and share our feelings of anger, sadness, joy and fear. Your ways of experiencing and expressing emotions are unique because you are unique.

Activity- Identify And Deal With Your Moods: Find out what makes you happy, sad, joyful, or angry. What calms you down? Learn ways to deal with your moods. Share joyful news with a friend; “cry on a shoulder” when you feel blue. Physical exercise can help you deal with your anger. Keep a stack of your favorite funny cartoons or a collection of humorous stories or video tapes for times when you feel the need to laugh.

(J) Have A Spirituality To Call Your Own

Learn to be at peace with yourself. Get to know who you are: what makes you really happy, what you are really passionate about. Learn to balance what you are able to change about yourself with what you cannot change. Get to know and trust your inner self.

Activity- Build Your Own “You”: Set aside quiet, quality time to be totally alone. Do a breathing exercise—try counting your breaths from one to four, then start at one again. Or do something you love to do, like dancing, going to a baseball game, building a birdhouse, whatever works for you.


” When you have an INVISIBLE ILLNESS it’s hard to explain to someone who doesn’t have CLUE. It’s a daily STRUGGLE being in PAIN or feeling SICK on the INSIDE when you look FINE on the OUTSIDE ” 

Mental disorders are primarily disorders of the brain. These conditions usually have multiple causes and result from complex interactions between individuals’ genes and their environment. Lifestyle factors and health behaviors, like smoking and exercise, and life experiences, such as severe and prolonged stress or a history of abuse, are such factors. Typically, such factors interact with an individual’s genetic or biological predisposition to a mental disorder. For example, a traumatic brain injury or a mother’s exposure to viruses or toxic chemicals while pregnant may play a part. Other factors that can increase the risk for mental illness are the use of illegal drugs or having a serious medical condition like cancer. Research on the causality of mental illness has convincingly replaced the now-disproved belief that mental illness is a moral failure.

Mental illnesses occur at similar rates around the world, in every culture and in all socioeconomic groups. Statistics reveal that one in five individuals suffer from a mental disorder. This represents at least 20% of the population. However, only one-fourth of those individuals with disorders are receiving treatments. And, currently, only about 4% of health-care budget is spent on mental health treatment and prevention.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (called DSM-5), published by the American Psychiatric Association, provides a common language and standard criteria for the classification of mental disorders. It classifies mental disorders into categories. There are more than 20 categories of which the following are the most common.

Anxiety disorders are disturbances in brain mechanisms designed to protect you from harm.

Mood disorders are disturbances in usual mood states.

Psychotic disorders are disturbances of thinking perception and behavior.

Personality disorders are maladaptive personal characteristics.

Eating disorders are disturbances of weight and feeding behavior.

Substance-related and addiction disorders are disturbances of cravings.

Neurodevelopmental disorders are early disturbances in usual brain development.

Trauma- and stressor-related disorders are disturbances related to significant stressful events.

For example, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is one of the trauma- and stressor-related disorders. It is a common occurrence in those who witnessed or survived traumatic situations. Many veterans of the war suffer from PTSD and experience symptoms of flashbacks, nightmares, feelings of constant vigilance, and depression. But not all who were deployed for the war experience PTSD. Rather, it is most likely to occur in those with a biological predisposition.

Depression is a mental disorder experienced by more than 120 million adults each year. Depression is a leading cause of drug and alcohol use. Sleep difficulties result in nearly 50 million prescriptions being written for sleep medications per year. Many individuals manage their anxieties by overeating or smoking. Over time, unhealthy ways of coping take their toll on physical as well as mental health, particularly in those who are predisposed to such conditions.


Significant advances have been made in the treatment of mental disorders. This increased understanding of the causes of mental health disorders (at least some of them) and increasingly effective treatments allow clinicians to better tailor treatment to those disorders. As a result, many mental health disorders can now be treated almost as effectively as medical conditions.

Generally, treatment for mental health disorders is characterized as either somatic (biological) or psychological. Somatic treatments include drugs, electroconvulsive therapy, and other therapies that stimulate the brain. Psychological treatments include psychotherapy (individual, group, or family and marital), behavior therapy techniques (e.g., relaxation training or exposure therapy), and hypnotherapy. Research suggests that for major mental health disorders like major depressive disorder, a treatment approach involving both drugs and psychotherapy is more effective than either treatment method used alone.

Clinicians who treat mental disorders include psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, mental health counselors, social workers, and psychiatric nurse practitioners.

However, in most countries, psychiatrists and psychiatric nurse practitioners are the only mental health clinicians licensed to prescribe drugs. Other clinicians practice psychotherapy primarily. Many primary care doctors and other medical specialists also prescribe drugs to treat mental health disorders.

Well Being

In the past, mental health treatments focused largely on reducing symptoms or returning the individuals to their previous level of functioning. Today, however, treatment may also focus on increasing individuals’ functioning, resilience, and prevention.

This focus is known as well-being. Well-being is defined as how individuals think about and experience their lives. It is an indicator of how well individuals perceive their lives to be going. It reflects several health, job, family, and social outcomes. Accordingly, higher levels of well-being are associated with decreased risk of disease, illness, and injury. It is associated with faster recovery for illness, better immunity, increased longevity, and better mental health. Those with high levels of well-being are more productive at work, tend to get along better with others, and are more likely to contribute to their communities.

While there is not yet consensus among researchers or clinicians on the definition of well-being, most agree that well-being involves the presence of positive emotions and the absence of negative emotions. Most would agree that it includes satisfaction with life, a sense of personal fulfillment, and positive functioning. In short, it is about judging life positively and feeling good. Furthermore, most agree that well-being is broader and more inclusive than mental health. In fact, several kinds of well-being can be described and are currently being researched. 

These are physical well-being, economic well-being, social well-being, emotional well-being, and psychological well-being. Depression, anxieties, addictive behaviours, and severe physical pain make it difficult to attain and maintain well-being. The reason is that these conditions interfere with the ability to see beyond one’s immediate negative experience.

Article by ,

Ms. Nabila Mohammad Rafulla


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