What is Mental Health? By: Jen Holper, LSW, Community Relations

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. We have been posting statistics about mental illness for the past week. Statistics like “1 out of every 4 people will at some point in their life have a diagnosable mental illness” and “Half of all cases of mental illness report an onset of symptoms before the age of 14”. Statistics aside, what does it really mean to have “Mental Health”?
Mental illness as defined by the science dictionary is “Any of various psychiatric disorders or diseases, usually characterized by impairment of thought, mood, or behavior”. Does that mean that mental health is an absence of said impairments? According to Dictionary.com mental health is defined as the “psychological well-being and satisfactory adjustment to society and to the ordinary demands of life.”

At PrairieCare we would like to expand on this definition of mental health. To us being mentally healthy is not always about the absence of symptoms, but about the awareness of self, and the ability to seek help when and if needed. Life is stressful. While there are people who handle stress very well, there are also people who need more support when experiencing, “Ordinary demands of life”. Ordinary life; like relationships, financial issues, employment concerns, housing, demanding schedules, can all be stressful and can exacerbate symptoms that can lead to mental illness.

So this Mental Health Awareness Month let’s all work together to make it ok to deal with “Ordinary demands of life” by taking some time to evaluate our functioning, our coping skills, and our support networks! Talk about your struggles and your successes in handling life. Your openness might just help someone see a new way to cope, or help them to find strength through your experience.

Mental health is more than the lack of symptoms. It is the awareness of life and circumstances and knowing when to seek support! PrairieCare is here when you need to seek support through psychiatric services.

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