Mental health describes either a level of cognitive or emotional well-being or an absence of a mental disorder. But at any given time, one in five people experience a reality wich is far from this general definition. The holistic model of mental health is a state of physical, social and mental well-being, and this is what we should strive to achieve.
|Intro to health|
From perspectives of the discipline of positive psychology or holism, mental health may include an individual's ability to enjoy life and procure a balance between life activities and efforts to achieve psychological resilience (the positive capacity of people to cope with stress and catastrophe).
The WHO defines mental health as a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.
The surgeons general report on mental health includes the following two explanations:
- Mental health is the successful performance of mental function, resulting in productive activities, fulfilling relationships with other people, and the ability to adapt to change and to cope with adversity; from early childhood until late life, mental health is the springboard of thinking and communication skills, learning, emotional growth, resilience, and self-esteem.
- Mental illness is the term that refers collectively to all mental disorders. Mental disorders are health conditions that are characterized by alterations in thinking, mood, or behavior (or some combination thereof) associated with distress and/or impaired functioning.
The World Health Organization, in collaboration with the World Bank and Harvard University, mounted an ambitious research effort in the mid-1990s to determine the “burden of disability” associated with the whole range of diseases and health conditions suffered by peoples throughout the world. Possibly the most striking finding of the landmark Global Burden of Disease study is that the impact of mental illness on overall health and productivity throughout the world is profoundly underrecognized.
Even today, everyday language encourages a misperception that mental health or mental illness is unrelated to physical health or physical illness. In fact, the two are inseparable. In keeping with modern scientific thinking, we use the term mind to refer to all mental functions related to thinking, mood, and purposive behavior. The mind is generally seen as deriving from activities within the brain.
Research makes it clear that mental functions are carried out by a particular organ, the brain. Indeed, new and emerging technologies are making it increasingly possible for researchers to demonstrate the extent to which mental disorders and their treatment—both with medication and with psychotherapy—are reflected in physical changes in the brain.
As individuals move into adulthood, developmental goals focus on productivity and intimacy including pursuit of education, work, leisure, creativity, and personal relationships. Good mental health enables individuals to cope with adversity while pursuing these goals. Untreated, mental disorders can lead to lost productivity, unsuccessful relationships, and significant distress and dysfunction. Mental illness in adults can have a significant and continuing effect on children in their care. Stressful life events or the manifestation of mental illness can disrupt the balance adults seek in life and result in distress and dysfunction.
Severe or life-threatening trauma experienced either in childhood or adulthood can further provoke emotional and behavioral reactions that jeopardize mental health. Research has improved our understanding of mental disorders in the adult stage of the life cycle. Anxiety, depression, and schizophrenia, particularly, present special problems in this age group. Anxiety and depression contribute to the high rates of suicide. Schizophrenia is the most persistently disabling condition, especially for young adults, in spite of recovery of function by some individuals in mid to late life.
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