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The Importance of Mental Health
The World Health Organization defines mental health as a state of well-being where an individual has the opportunity to cope with challenges and stresses of life, achieve high work productivity, contribute positively to the community, and above all realize their potential (BeyondBlue, 2020). Mental health encompasses the emotional, psychological, and cognitive well-being of the individual and relates to their ability to function well and live a happy and satisfying life (Landmark, 2017). Mental health has a considerable impact on the different aspects of an individual’s life and functioning in society. Mental health affects how an individual relates to other people in their social circle such as family members, relatives, friends, and colleagues. Mental health has an impact on the behavior and attitudes of a person. Mental health has a significant impact on the life of an individual because it influences their decision-making processes. Furthermore, mental health is intertwined with the physical health and the overall well-being of a person. The mental well-being of a person is subject to change over time. Various factors have an impact on the mental health of an individual. The first factor is biological influences which can include genes, heredity, and brain chemistry. The second factor is a person’s life experiences and history. Another impactful factor is the person’s life choices and way of life.
The biggest threat to the mental health of individuals is mental illness. Mental illness refers to any health condition that has an impact on mood, behavior, thoughts, and attitudes (Holthaus, 2020). Mental illnesses disturb the emotions, energy, and the person’s ability to handle the demands of life. Mental illnesses can be short-term or occasional, or sometimes such illnesses can be long-term and chronic. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that mental illnesses are some of the most common health issues in the US. The CDC notes that over 50% of the US population will at one point in their lives be diagnosed with a mental illness (CDC, 2015). The CDC reports that each year, around 25% of all Americans grapple with a mental illness (CDC, 2018). The CDC also notes that around 25% of all children in the US have or at some point have grappled with mental illness. The organization also notes that close to 25% of all Americans are currently living with a chronic or serious mental disorder such as major depression or schizophrenia (CDC, 2015). The most common mental illnesses in the US are depression, bipolar disorders, generalized anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, panic disorders, and schizophrenia. Mental illness can cause disability, distress, and even death. All people are a risk of mental illness regardless of age, gender, age, nationality, race, or ethnicity.
The statistics on mental illness provided by the CDC raise concerns about mental health among the public. All people, from children to the elderly, are at risk of mental health problems that will have a negative impact on their mental well-being. Mental health focuses on the positive elements of a person’s psychological, emotional, and cognitive well-being rather than the problems (BeyondBlue, 2020). However, a primary aim of mental health is to enable the individual to overcome mental health problems and live a more fulfilling life. Mental health is not only about overcoming or avoiding mental illness but also about the individual’s pursuit of happiness and fulfillment in their lives. Mental health is beneficial to the individual as well as the society at large. Therefore, mental health is a crucial component of the overall wellness of the population across all life stages and deserves adequate attention (MusicHelps, 2020). The paper will provide an in-depth examination of the importance of mental health. The paper will also examine the positive contribution of mental health to the overall well-being of individuals.
Importance of Mental Health
The attainment and preservation of psychological, emotional, and cognitive wellness have a wide range of benefits to the individual. Some of the determinants of mental health include physical health, interpersonal relationships, social support, lifestyle, family dynamics, the quality of health care, financial security, and access to opportunities (MentalHealth.gov, 2020). The section discusses the significance of mental health to the individual as well as the community.
Mental Health Improves Physical Health
Mental health and physical health are intertwined and closely related. Any deterioration of mental health through mental illness has an adverse effect on the physical well-being of the individual. Physical health and mental health are interconnected because mental illnesses tend to manifest through physical conditions. A person with a mental illness or problem will report physical symptoms such as headache, sleep dysfunction, loss of weight, loss of energy, fatigue, and body weakness (MentalHealth.gov, 2020). Furthermore, mental illnesses have been established to contribute to various physical illnesses and conditions such as stroke, heart disease, eating disorder, insomnia, obesity, diabetes, and premature death.
As such, it is clear that mental health can have a range of positive effects on the physical health of the individual. Firstly, mental well-being lowers risk that the individual could develop physical illnesses. Mental illness preserves physical well-being by minimizing the threat of contracting life-threatening conditions such as stroke, type 2 diabetes and heart disease (CDC, 2015). Consequently, mental health reduces the risk of premature death from the complications of such illnesses. Secondly, mental health minimizes the occurrence or persistence of health problems such as headaches and pain. Mental health also improves physical wellness by promoting the individual’s ability to recover from physical illness. Thirdly, mental health improves physical health by curbing sleep dysfunctions and eating disorders that can harm the individual’s well-being. In this way, mental health ensures that a person eats healthy, sleeps healthily, and therefore lives healthy and happy. Mental health enhances physical health by keeping a person’s energy levels high and lessening fatigue and body weakness (BetterHealth, 2015). Furthermore, mental health improves physical health by improving a person’s ability to make choices about their diet, exercise, and use of alcohol and drugs. Therefore, mental health is important because of the positive effects on a person’s physical well-being.
Mental Health Nurtures and Reinforces Relationships
Mental health contributes to improvements related to an individual’s interpersonal relationships. Mental health problems can have an adverse effect on a person’s ability to establish and build interpersonal relationships (BeyondBlue, 2020). Such mental health challenges can also impede the individual’s ability to maintain their current relationships with people in their social circle, such as family members, partners, relatives, friends, schoolmates, and coworkers. Mental illnesses can cause social withdrawal, isolation, irritability, and communication challenges which can lead to relationship problems.
Mental health nurtures and reinforces relationships by enhancing the capacity of an individual to connect with others on a personal and emotional level. Mental health nurtures relationships by improving a person’s sociability and readiness to interact with other people in varied social settings such as home, school, and work. Subsequently, mental health promotes the ability of the individual to create and sustain friendships. Among couples, mental health increases cohesion by lessening stress and allowing for open communication. Mental health eliminates negative emotions and attitudes that can impact on the relationship by causing disagreements and resentment. As such, mental health can improve the quality of romantic relationships such as marriage. Mental health allows individuals to develop deeper and meaningful connections with family members such as parents and siblings. Such connections enable the individual to have social support and live a happy and fulfilling life.
Mental Health Enhances the Quality of Life
Mental health improves the quality of life of an individual by improving their ability to function normally within society. Mental health issues, and the associated emotional, physical, and cognitive effects, tend to have an adverse impact on the ability of the affected person to function within the society. Mental health promotes the overall well-being of the individual and supports their ability to undertake various roles and tasks (MentalHealth.gov, 2020). Firstly, mental wellness improves a person’s outlook of life and gives them the energy and enthusiasm to undertake-day-to-day activities. Mental health also contributes to a better quality of life by improving the autonomy of individuals. Psychological, emotional, and cognitive well-being enhances a person’s independence by promoting their ability to take care of themselves and fulfill their basic needs.
Secondly, mental well-being improves the quality of life by improving the capacity of an individual to manage the inevitable stresses of life. Mental health promotes the coping mechanisms of an individual and allows them to live a more optimistic and positive life in a world where problems and stresses are inevitable (MentalHealth.gov, 2020). In this way, mental health promotes the capacity of people to overcome adversity and cope with drastic life changes. Mental health enhances the quality of life by fostering the ability of the individual to overcome challenges (HelpGuide, 2019). An individual with mental wellness has the psychological and emotional strength to handle problems in their life and live happy and stress-free.
Mental Health Contributes to Productivity at Work and Career Progression
Mental health has been noted to promote the productivity of individuals which can have career benefits. Mental health issues have an adverse effect on the work activities of individuals. Firstly, mental health problems can lead to loss of focus in the workplace which can cause negligence, mistakes, and missed deadlines. Mental health issues impact on the individual’s productivity, efficiency, and quality of their output when performing their assigned tasks. The mental health issues can also impact on the individual’s productivity at work by causing frequent absenteeism and loss of enthusiasm with work. Mental health illness can impair the ability of the individual to perform their duties to a satisfactory degree that can cause the person to get fired from work.
Mental health is important because it improves the productivity of the individual by boosting their enthusiasm for their work. In this way, the individual develops a positive attitude and has the energy to undertake their duties. Increased enthusiasm for work also minimizes incidents of absenteeism from work. Mental health improves the individual’s work and career prospects by enhancing their interpersonal relationship with coworkers, supervisors, and managers. Mental health promotes the individual’s productivity by reinforcing their focus on their work responsibilities and minimizing fatigue (MedicinePlus, 2020). Therefore, the individual easily meets work deadlines and meets the expected standards of work quality. Psychological and emotional wellness boosts the ability of the individual to handle work stress and challenges that arise when carrying out tasks. Mental health allows the individual to handle the pressures of the workplace, such as demanding work schedules and multitasking. Mental health can also improve productivity by providing the individual with the capabilities to manage the demands of work and life outside work. As such, it is evident that mental health can improve an individual’s work productivity, effectiveness, and efficacy. The individual stands to gain through promotions, rewards, and better employment opportunities.
Mental Health Enhances Learners’ Academic Performance
Mental health can improve the academic performance of students by improving aspects related to study and learning. Mental illnesses and other mental health issues impede the academic success of students (Owens, 2015). Some of the most common mental illnesses among students include anxiety, stress, depression, bipolar disorder, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. The mental health illness can hamper the ability of the learner to acquire knowledge and new skills in the classroom. Mental health issues can hamper the focus and concentration of the learner in the classroom environment. Depression, anxiety, and stress affect the learner’s cognitive abilities which results in poor academic performance.
Fig 1: Impact of mental illness on academic success of college students. Source: (Owens, 2015)
Mental health contributes to improved academic performance by directing the focus of the learner towards the study material. Psychological well-being allows the student to overcome the stresses and challenges that they are bound to face in their education. Mental health improves academic performance by eliminating psychological and emotional difficulties that interfere with studies. High levels of mental health contribute to the learner’s creativity and engagement with study material (CDU, 2020). The next benefit of mental health in the academic environment is that it enables the student to relate better with other students and their educators. Such interpersonal relationships make learning more fun, increase enthusiasm with academics, and improve the student’s academic performance. Mental health also minimizes the learner’s anxiety and encourages their inquisitiveness and self-assuredness in the face of new or complex concepts.
Mental Health Allows Individuals to Realize their Full Potential
Mental health is beneficial because it allows people to realize their full potential and therefore achieve happiness and satisfaction with their lives (MedicinePlus, 2020). Firstly, mental health contributes to the attainment of an individual’s full potential by improving their decision-making. Mental health provides the individual with clear thoughts and sharpens their cognitive abilities which enhance the quality of their life decisions. As such, mental health allows the individual to make wise decisions about their work, education, relationships, and other critical aspects. Mental health allows individuals to realize their full potential by cultivating confidence and self-esteem (HelpGuide, 2019). An individual with confidence and high self-esteem is more likely to pursue and achieve their life goals and ambitions, thereby realizing their full potential.
Mental Health Reduces the Risk of Mental Disorders and Related Symptoms
Mental wellness minimizes the risk of developing chronic mental health conditions and mitigates the impacts of mental disorders. Psychological, emotional, and cognitive wellness reduces the risk that the individual will develop severe mental illnesses that will hamper their ability to live a normal life and achieve their full potential. Mental health will enable the individual to manage conditions such as anxiety and stress before they progress to more serious mental disorders (Holthaus, 2020). In this way, mental health prevents the progression of mental illnesses into more severe and chronic conditions that will cause disability and torment. Therefore, mental health is important in reducing the severity, occurrence, and prevalence of mental illness.
Mental health mitigates or prevents the disabilities and negative impacts associated with mental illness. Firstly, mental health prevents the development of chronic mental illnesses that could impede the individual’s ability to work or study. Mental health mitigates the impacts of mental illnesses that could cause disability and hamper the individual’s ability to carry out day-to-day functions (Landmark, 2017). In children, mental health prevents severe mental illnesses that could interfere with the normal growth and development of the child. As such, mental health allows children to live free of psychological harm that could negatively affect their behavior, attitudes, and cognitive development. Mental health is important because psychological and emotional wellness minimizes the occurrence and prevalence of suicides related to mental health issues (BeyondBlue, 2020). Therefore, mental health prevents the untimely loss of life due to mental illness.
Mental Health Improves the Community
The mental health of the population has several benefits to the community. Firstly, mental health allows people to contribute positively to the community through work, education, and other activities (MedicinePlus, 2020). Mental health allows more people to join the workforce and maintain their jobs which reduces the unemployment burden in the community and leads to improvements in quality of life. With mental health, individuals are able to utilize their knowledge, talents, and skills to the benefit of their communities. Mental health improves the overall health of the community by minimizing the effects of mental illness and associated physical conditions. The mental well-being of the population reduces incidents of suicide in the community which reduces mortality (Mass.gov, 2020). As such, the mental well-being of people in the community improves health, the quality of life, and life expectancy of members of the community (BeyondBlue, 2020). The health of the population reduces the burden on the health care resources in the community and contributes to collective happiness and wellness.
Mental health is a state of well-being where an individual has the ability to handle the life stresses and challenges, work productively, contribute positively to the community, and above all, realize their potential. Mental health encompasses the emotional, psychological, and cognitive aspects of wellness (Landmark, 2017). Mental health is crucial in all stages of life, from childhood to adulthood. The biggest threat to the mental health of the population is mental illnesses. Mental illness refers to any health condition that has an impact on mood, behavior, thoughts, and attitudes. All people are at a risk of mental illness regardless of age, ethnicity, or gender. The fact that around half of the population will be diagnosed with a mental illness in the course of their lives and that 1 in 4 people are currently living with a mental health condition emphasizes the need for mental health.
Mental health is important because it promotes physical health by minimizing the risk of life-threatening illnesses such as stroke and heart disease and by improving recovery from disease. Mental wellness allows an individual to establish and nurture interpersonal relationships with their family, partner, friends, and colleagues. Mental health enhances an individual’s quality of life by cultivating a positive outlook of life, improving the person’s ability to handle life challenges, boosting enthusiasm, and fostering independence. Mental health improves a person’s productivity and effectiveness in the workplace. As such, mental wellness enhances job performance and facilitates career progression through promotions and better career opportunities. Mental health is important in academics because it focuses the learner, eliminates psychological barriers to learning, and increase the enthusiasm for study. The mental well-being of an individual allows then to tap into their abilities to realize their full potential. Mental health minimizes the risk of severe mental illness and the negative impacts of those mental illnesses such as suicide. Among children, mental wellness allows for normal growth and cognitive development. Furthermore, mental health improves the community by enhancing public wellness, increasing life expectancy, and reducing the burden on health care resources.
Individuals can promote mental well-being seeking professional help and treatment to combat mental illnesses (MentalHealth.gov, 2020). The individual can seek social support within their social circle, including family and friends, to overcome mental health issues and improve their ability to cope with stress and anxiety (MHA, 2020). Individuals can also foster mental health by living a healthy lifestyle through such activities as healthy eating and exercising while avoiding drug and substance abuse (HelpGuide, 2019). Communities can promote mental health by tackling the problem of stigma related to mental illnesses (Holthaus, 2020). Eliminating stigma will allow individuals to seek treatment and support for mental illness which contributes to enhances mental wellness in society. Communities, in collaboration with health care organizations, should increase awareness of mental health to promote psychological and emotional health. Communities and individuals can improve the mental health of people across all age groups by tackling the vices of harassment and bullying that lead to mental health issues. Mental health organizations should develop and implement interventions to protect groups and communities at the highest risk of mental illness to improve the public’s mental well-being.
BetterHealth (2015). Managing your health. Retrieved from: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/ServicesAndSupport/managing-your-health
BeyondBlue (2020). What is mental health? Retrieved from: https://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/what-is-mental-health
CDU (2020). Why good mental health is important for study. Retrieved from: https://www.cdu.edu.au/launchpad/student-life/why-good-mental-health-important-study
HelpGuide (2019). Building better mental health. Retrieved from: https://www.helpguide.org/articles/mental-health/building-better-mental-health.htm
Holthaus, J. (2020). The importance of mental health awareness. Retrieved from: https://www.pinerest.org/mental-health-awareness-blog/
Landmark (2017). The Importance of Mental Health on Overall Health. Retrieved from: https://www.landmarkhealth.org/resource/the-importance-of-mental-health/
Mass.gov (2020). The importance of mental health. https://www.mass.gov/service-details/the-importance-of-mental-health
MedicinePlus (2020). Mental health. Retrieved from: https://medlineplus.gov/mentalhealth.html
MentalHealth.gov (2020). What is mental health? Retrieved from: https://www.mentalhealth.gov/basics/what-is-mental-health
MHA (2020). 31 Tips to Boost Your Mental Health. Retrieved from: https://www.mhanational.org/31-tips-boost-your-mental-health
MusicHelps (2020). What is mental health and why is it important? Retrieved from: https://musichelps.org.nz/backline/wellbeing/what-is-mental-health/
Owens, T. (2015). Mental health in college. Retrieved from: https://www.marianuniversitysabre.com/951/news/mental-health-in-college/
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