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What is Mental Health?



Mental health is something we all have.


Think of it like a spectrum. From languishing to flourishing.




Mental health refers to a state of emotional, psychological, and social well-being in which an individual can cope with life's challenges, work productively, and contribute positively to society (World Health Organization, 2020). It is not merely the absence of mental illnesses but encompasses a broad spectrum of factors that contribute to one's cognitive and emotional equilibrium.


Some Key Components of Mental Health

  1. Emotional Resilience: Emotional resilience is the ability to adapt and bounce back from adversity, stress, and trauma. It involves acknowledging and managing emotions in a healthy way (American Psychological Association, 2021). Developing emotional resilience fosters mental strength and enhances one's ability to face life's ups and downs.

  2. Positive Relationships: Human beings are inherently social creatures, and our connections with others play a vital role in mental health. Cultivating positive relationships with family, friends, and the community fosters a sense of belonging and support, contributing to improved mental well-being (Holt-Lunstad, 2018).

  3. Self-Esteem and Self-Compassion: Self-esteem is the perception of one's own worth and abilities, while self-compassion involves treating oneself with kindness and understanding (Neff, 2003). A healthy level of self-esteem and self-compassion enables individuals to navigate life with greater confidence and self-assurance.

  4. Coping Mechanisms: Effective coping mechanisms are essential for managing stress and challenging situations. Healthy coping strategies, such as mindfulness, physical activity, or seeking social support, can significantly impact mental health positively (Taylor et al., 2019).


The Significance of Mental Health

Prioritizing mental health is crucial for various reasons:

  1. Physical Health: Mental health influences physical well-being, as chronic stress and negative emotions can lead to adverse health effects such as cardiovascular issues and weakened immunity (Segerstrom & Miller, 2004).

  2. Quality of Life: Mental health directly impacts an individual's overall quality of life and satisfaction.

  3. Reduced risk of mental illness, cognitive decline, and problematic substance use (Fusar‐Poli et al., 2021).

  4. And, well, because you matter. You deserve to feel as good as you possibly can, to live a life in line with your values, one that brings you joy and fulfilment.


LGBTQIA+ individuals face unique mental health challenges due to the intersectionality of their sexual orientation, gender identity, and societal discrimination. Studies have indicated that LGBTQIA+ individuals experience higher rates of depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation compared to their heterosexual and cisgender counterparts (Haas et al., 2010; Marshal et al., 2011). The stress of coming out, facing stigmatization, and discrimination can lead to feelings of isolation and internalized shame, which may further exacerbate mental health issues (Meyer, 2003). Culturally competent and inclusive mental health support is crucial in addressing the specific needs of the LGBTQIA+ community and promoting their overall well-being (American Psychological Association, 2020).


Mental health is an integral aspect of overall well-being, encompassing emotional resilience, positive relationships, self-esteem, and healthy coping mechanisms. Prioritizing mental health contributes to improved physical health and overall quality of life. Nurturing our mental well-being is a continuous journey that requires awareness, self-compassion, and seeking support when needed.

By adopting a proactive approach to mental health, we can lead more fulfilling lives and create a supportive environment for others to thrive. Remember, it's okay to ask for help and prioritize self-care, as mental health is an essential part of being human.



References:

American Psychological Association. (2020). LGBTQ mental health. https://www.apa.org/topics/lgbtq-mental-health

American Psychological Association. (2021). Building your resilience. https://www.apa.org/topics/resilience

Fusar‐Poli, P., Correll, C. U., Arango, C., Berk, M., Patel, V., & Ioannidis, J. P. (2021). Preventive psychiatry: a blueprint for improving the mental health of young people. World Psychiatry, 20(2), 200-221.

Haas, A. P., Eliason, M., Mays, V. M., Mathy, R. M., Cochran, S. D., D'Augelli, A. R., ... & Clayton, P. J. (2010). Suicide and suicide risk in lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender populations: Review and recommendations. Journal of homosexuality, 58(1), 10-51.

Holt-Lunstad, J. (2018). Why social relationships are important for physical health: A systems approach to understanding and modifying risk and protection. Annual Review of Psychology, 69, 437-458.

Marshal, M. P., Dietz, L. J., Friedman, M. S., Stall, R., Smith, H. A., McGinley, J., ... & Brent, D. A. (2011). Suicidality and depression disparities between sexual minority and heterosexual youth: A meta-analytic review. Journal of Adolescent Health, 49(2), 115-123.

Meyer, I. H. (2003). Prejudice, social stress, and mental health in lesbian, gay, and bisexual populations: Conceptual issues and research evidence. Psychological Bulletin, 129(5), 674-697.

Neff, K. D. (2003). Self-compassion: An alternative conceptualization of a healthy attitude toward oneself. Self and Identity, 2(2), 85-101.

Segerstrom, S. C., & Miller, G. E. (2004). Psychological stress and the human immune system: A meta-analytic study of 30 years of inquiry. Psychological Bulletin, 130(4), 601-630.

Taylor, C. T., Lyubomirsky, S., & Stein, M. B. (2019). Upregulating the positive affect system in anxiety and depression: Outcomes of a positive activity intervention. Depression and Anxiety, 36(3), 270-282.

World Health Organization. (2020). Mental health: Strengthening our response. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/mental-health

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