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A Brief Overview of Mental Illness

Jun 2, 2020

Mental health disorders, to most people, are rare conditions that can never occur to them. That’s why you’ll find that many people with mental health disorders rarely get any treatment. Either they think it won’t help or fail to identify the symptoms in the first place. Also, the social stigma around the topic of mental illness makes it hard for someone to get help even when they know they need it.

However, mental health disorders are nothing to be ashamed of. They are health problems, just like diabetes or heart disease. In fact, this is a condition that affects an estimated 19% of Americans every year. The sad part is that most families are never well equipped to cope with the learning phase of their loved one after being diagnosed with a mental health disorder.

It can be very trying both emotionally and physically for people with mental illness as they are vulnerable to the judgment and opinions of others. In some cases, when symptoms worsen, it could lead to suicide. Therefore, if you have someone in your life who’s dealing with mental health issues, always remind them there’s hope to be better.

So, what is Mental Illness?

Mostly, mental illnesses are mind-based; therefore, they tend to affect your thinking, emotions, and general behavior. Actually, it’s common to have some sort of experience with mental illness in your life. For someone who’s dealing with mental illness, their mind has changed in a way that they are unable to feel, act, and think in the way they want.

For most, it could mean going to extremes with their mood changes. In that, one moment, they may be all happy, and the next moment they are too sad, distraught, or worried. In some other cases, it could mean being unable to communicate clearly or having a hard time explaining exactly how they are feeling.

Mental illness is mainly influenced by several factors which may include:

  • Biology
  • Daily habits
  • The Environment and
  • Genetics

What is Mental Health?

Simply put, mental health is your psychological and emotional well-being. When your mental health is in check, you will easily lead a happier and healthier life. You will have much-needed resilience and the ability to thrive in the face of adversities.

Several factors influence your mental health, including your genetics and daily routines surrounding your life. But the good thing is that they are a couple of lifestyle choices that can help you establish and maintain good health. Some of which includes:

  • Adequate sleep
  • Healthy eating habits
  • Engaging in physical activities
  • Maintaining a positive attitude towards life
  • Socialization with friends and family
  • Coming up with positive coping strategies to manage your problems
  • Helping others
  • Asking for help with your mental health when need be.

A Quick Takeaway

Your mental health is an essential part of your life as it has a significant impact on your emotions, thoughts, and behavior. Therefore, it’s necessary to take care of your mental health since it affects your productivity and general effectiveness with your daily activities. More importantly, your mental health plays a crucial role in how you relate with people, and at the same time, it helps you adapt to changes and thrive in the face of adversities.


American Psychiatric Association (APA) (2018). What is mental illness? Retrieved from

Written by Bilha Gitari

Edited by Tracie Stewart


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