Resilience & Mental Health

All About Mental Health

What is mental health? 

Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act as we cope with life. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices.  

Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood and aging. 

What are mental disorders? 

Mental disorders are serious conditions that can affect your thinking, mood, and behavior. They may be occasional or long-lasting. They can affect your ability to relate to others and function each day.  

Mental disorders are common; more than half of all Americans will be diagnosed with one at some time in their life. But there are treatments. People with mental disorders can get better, and many of them recover completely. 

Why is mental wellbeing important? 

Mental wellbeing is important because it can help you to 

  • Cope with the stresses of life 
  • Be physically healthy 
  • Have good relationships 
  • Make meaningful contributions to your community 
  • Work productively 
  • Realize your full potential 

Your mental health is also important because it can affect your physical health. For example, mental disorders may increase your risk for certain physical health problems. 

What can affect my mental health? 

There are many different factors that can affect your mental health, including 

  • Biological factors, such as genes or brain chemistry 
  • Life experiences, such as trauma or abuse 
  • Family history of mental health problems 
  • Your lifestyle, such as diet, physical activity, and substance use 
  • Your chronic health condition 

You can also affect your mental health by taking steps to improve it, such as doing meditation, using relaxation techniques, and practicing gratitude. 

Can my mental health change over time? 

Over time, your mental health can change. For example, you may be dealing with a difficult situation, such as trying to manage your chronic illness, taking care of an ill relative, or facing money problems.  

The situation may wear you out and overwhelm your ability to cope with it. This can worsen your mental health. On the other hand, getting therapy may improve your mental health. 

What are the signs that I might have a mental health problem? 

When it comes to your emotions, it can be hard to know what is normal and what is not. There are warning signs that you may have a mental health problem, including 

  • A change in your eating or sleeping habits 
  • Withdrawing from the people and activities you enjoy 
  • Having low or no energy 
  • Feeling numb or like nothing matters 
  • Feeling helpless or hopeless 
  • Smoking, drinking or using drugs more than usual 
  • Feeling unusually confused, forgetful, angry, upset, worried, or scared 
  • Having severe mood swings that cause problems in your relationships 
  • Having thoughts and memories that you can’t get out of your head 
  • Hearing voices or believing things that are not true 
  • Thinking of harming yourself or others 
  • Not being able to perform daily tasks like taking care of your kids or getting to work or school 
  • Certain physical symptoms such as unexplained aches and pains 

Tip: Certain chronic conditions have symptoms that can be similar to these “warning signs” of a mental health problem. Consult with your Care Team if you feel this may be the case for you! 

Where can I go for help? 

If you think that you may have a mental health problem, get help and consult your healthcare provider or your Care Team. Talk therapy and/or medicines can treat mental disorders. If you don’t know where to start, contact your primary care provider, Care Team, or ask your health provider or check out the NIMH Help for Mental Illnesses.

Additionally, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) maintains an online Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator.

You can also check online for mental health professionals; contact your community health center, local mental health association, or insurance plan to find a mental health professional. Hospital doctors can help in an emergency. 

If you or someone you know is in crisis, get help quickly. 

  • Call you or your loved one’s health professional. 
  • Call 911 for emergency services. 
  • Go to the nearest hospital emergency room. 
  • Call the toll-free, 24-hour hotline of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255); TYY: 1-800-799-4TTY (4889).