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What is Mental Health?

August 19, 2021

When you think about mental health, what comes to mind? You might think of emotions or thoughts. Terms like anxiety and depression might sound familiar to you.

Mental health is more than just how we think and feel. It can also affect our behavior and how we relate to others.

Common Mental Health Conditions

A few common mental health conditions include:

  • Anxiety
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Autism Spectrum Disorders
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Depression
  • Eating Disorders
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Schizophrenia
  • Tourette Syndrome

Mental Health and Physical Health

From a very young age, we visit a doctor. We first see a pediatrician and continue to have annual check-ups. As we get older, we might have additional appointments with specialists and undergo procedures to maintain our good health.

But depending on your circumstances, you might never see a psychologist or psychiatrist in your lifetime. No wonder many of us only think of physical health when we hear the word “health."

Mental health is just as important as physical health. In fact, the two are linked. If you have ever felt your heart beat more rapidly or your muscles start to tense when you feel stressed, then you have felt the effects of mental health on your body.

Mental Health Stigma

Despite this connection, mental health stigma prevents many from getting the help they need. A mental health condition is no more shameful than the flu or a broken bone. Just like physical illnesses, many mental health conditions are treatable and manageable. With the right treatment, a person with a mental illness can thrive and live a fulfilling and productive life.

Improving Your Mental Health

Everyone wants to be healthy. Just like physical health, being mentally healthy looks different for every person. While some may be able to make lifestyle changes to improve their health, those with a chronic illness might require more consistent care, like daily medication and regular visits to the therapist.

Here are a few simple mental health tips to help you start on the path towards your best and healthiest self:

  • Speak with a doctor or counselor if you are struggling to manage your emotions, thoughts, or mood
  • Join a support group or attend group therapy
  • Avoid alcohol and drugs, particularly if you have a substance use disorder
  • Prevent burnout by getting rest and taking a mental health day
  • Seek support from trusted friends, family, or co-workers
  • Keep a journal
  • Practice daily gratitude
  • Exercise regularly
  • Eat a nutritious diet
  • Prioritize sleep and try to get at least eight hours each night
  • Drink water and stay hydrated

When to See a Therapist and Get Professional Help

Individuals with no prior history of a mental health condition

If you are generally healthy and managing stress well, you can discuss your mental health during routine check-ups with your doctor. They may suggest speaking with a therapist if they think you would benefit from their insight and additional treatment.

Even if you consider yourself healthy, therapy may still be beneficial. Routine therapy with a counselor is similar to annual check-ups with your primary health physician. After all, prevention is the best medicine.

Individuals in recovery from addiction or substance use disorders

If you are in recovery from a substance use disorder or addiction, it’s important to have routine appointments with a therapist and/or psychiatrist. Depending on how you are coping with recovery and sobriety, your healthcare provider might recommend weekly or monthly visits with a mental health professional that specializes in addiction. You may also benefit from attending support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous.

Individuals who have recently been hospitalized for a mental health condition

If you have recently been hospitalized for a mental health condition, including Baker Act, it’s important you speak with a mental health professional before you are discharged from the hospital. You will work together on a discharge plan that will include follow-up appointments and medication as needed.

You can ask for a Peer Specialist to assist you. Peer Specialists are individuals who use their lived experience of mental health and are familiar with the healthcare system and mental health treatment. They are there to assist you and to help make your transition back to your day-to-day life easier.

Individuals with chronic mental health conditions

If you have a chronic mental health condition such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, your healthcare provider might recommend weekly or monthly appointments with a psychiatrist and/or psychologist. Medication and talk therapy are commonly prescribed to individuals managing chronic mental illnesses.

Individuals who have experienced trauma

If you have experienced a traumatic event, speak with your healthcare provider about the symptoms you’re experiencing. For many, the effects of trauma will subside in time. For some, additional treatment is needed to address post-traumatic stress disorder. Your healthcare provider will be able to assess your individual situation and make the right recommendations for you.

Start the Conversation

Good mental health begins with a conversation. Check-in on yourself and take stock of how you’re feeling and the symptoms you’re experiencing. If you notice a loved one is struggling or not quite themselves, check-in with them and offer to listen.

Help is available when you need it. Start here to find mental health resources in Osceola County.

The Check-In Project is a mental health initiative of Wraparound Osceola. Our goal is to provide families, schools, and employers with the tools and resources needed to check-in with one another and provide the support needed to break the stigma surrounding mental health.

Email: info@thecheckinproject.ORG// Phone: 407-870-4897