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What Is Mental Health?

When was the last time you talked to someone about mental or emotional health? You probably can’t remember. The first thing that comes to our mind when we hear the term “mental health” is mental illnesses, such as depression, anxiety disorders, PTSD, etc.

Mental health refers to the overall state of mental well-being which includes the way we feel, think, and behave. According to the World Health Organization (WHO): “Mental health is defined as a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.”

Good mental health is much more than the absence of mental conditions and disorders. It includes several positive characteristics, such as: feeling happy and fulfilled, having a desire for life, laughter, a sense of meaning and purpose, being able to learn new things, adapting to changes, dealing with stress, recovering from difficult situations, and finding balance in all aspects of life (work, relationships, leisure, activities).

Of course, this does not mean that we need to be in a good mood all the time. We all face different adversities, disappointments, losses, and it is completely normal to feel scared, sad, worried, and mad. Without those bad emotions, we wouldn’t be able to learn and grow. Only in accepting and embracing them can we overcome them.

Unfortunately, too many people take their mental health “for granted” and only deal with it when problems arise. Improving or maintaining physical health takes time and effort, and the same is true of mental health. The more we invest in maintaining mental health, the better. There are many things we can do to improve our mood, to build and strengthen our resilience, and to enjoy life more We must take responsibility for our own mental and physical health.

Therapy is not exclusively for people with mental illnesses. Going to therapy can be beneficial in many ways. A professional therapist can help us change our life patterns and solve our problems, in a healthy way, so we can strive for a better, happier life. Knowing and accepting ourselves helps us better understand the world around us. By becoming a better version of ourselves we become better spouses, children, and friends. Therapy is something all of us need, whether we want to admit it or not.

Situations can overwhelm us, and it is then that it may become necessary to ask for help. Family members and friends can be good listeners and while it is very important to have a supportive community, they are not therapists. When our usual coping techniques come up short, it is necessary to seek professional psychological help.

Mental illnesses are treatable, recovery is possible, and old stigmas should be tossed in the trash. Did you know that even professional therapists have their own therapists? We are all human, and asking for help is a strength not a weakness;  an act of courage to take back control of our lives.

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