Starting to Think About Mental Health
Mental health refers to our emotional and social well-being and impacts how we think, feel, and behave. It plays a role in connecting with others, making decisions, handling stress, and many other aspects of daily life. Everyone has mental health, and it deserves your attention just as much as your physical health does.
Why should I care about mental health?
Mental health is important for all of us. Taking care of yourself is critical to prevent your mental health from worsening – factors like nutrition and gut health, stress, sleep, relationships, trauma, and more can contribute to poor mental health. If your mental health is in a good spot, it is a great time to practice coping skills – ways to help you deal with hard feelings – so that you're better able to handle tough times when they happen.
Is poor mental health the same as having a mental health condition?
You can have times of poor mental health without having a diagnosable condition – just like you can be generally physically unhealthy without having a particular illness. A mental health concern is anything that causes a person to believe their mental health may be suffering. You don’t need to be diagnosed with a mental health condition to be dealing with a mental health concern.
Many people struggle with not feeling “sick enough” to seek help early on in their mental health journey. The average delay between symptom onset and treatment is 11 years, meaning a lot of people spend months or years facing mental health challenges before getting a diagnosis. It is never too early to seek treatment – if you want help for your mental health, you deserve to get it.
What is a mental health condition?
A mental health condition, or mental illness, refers to a set of symptoms that have been identified by the mental health community. Mental health conditions are described in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V), the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11), or by people with lived experience.
People with mental health conditions deal with changes in emotions, thinking, and/or behavior. For some, this means extreme and unexpected changes in mood – like feeling much more sad or worried than usual. For others, it means not thinking clearly, pulling away from friends and activities you used to enjoy, or hearing voices that others do not. To be diagnosed, the changes in your thinking and emotions must be seriously hurting your ability to do the things you want to do; and sticking around longer than they should – weeks or months, depending on the condition. No matter what kind of mental health condition someone is facing, it's always possible to recover.
Quick Facts and Statistics About Mental Health https://mhanational.org/mentalhealthfacts
Terms to Know: A Mental Health Glossary https://mhanational.org/terms-know-mental-health-glossary
The B4Stage4 Philosophy https://mhanational.org/b4stage4-philosophy
Mental Health 101 https://screening.mhanational.org/mental-health-101/
Learn About Specific Mental Health Conditions https://mhanational.org/conditions/view-all
 Wang, P.S., Berglund, P.A., Olfson, M., Kessler, R.C. (2004). Delays in initial treatment contact after first onset of a mental disorder. Health Services Research, 39(2). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1361014/