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What is the Difference Between Mental Health and Mental Illness?

What is the Difference Between Mental Health and Mental Illness?

Many people believe that mental health and mental illnesses are the same. Although seemingly similar, they have distinctly different meanings. Mental health is the overall state of a person’s mental and emotional well-being. In contrast, mental illness encompasses a diagnosed condition (such as depression or obsessive-compulsive disorder) that affects our behaviors and thoughts. We will discuss both terms, delve a bit more deeply into the meaning of each, and then provide some insights and helpful information.

Well-Being and Mental Health

There is nothing quite like being and feeling well, is there? Well-being includes our physical, emotional, social, and mental health. Our thoughts and feelings can make or break our entire day. Furthermore, we can have a good mental health day today and then turn around and find ourselves experiencing a poor mental health day tomorrow. Most of us have a difficult day with our thoughts and emotions now and then. Enduring such a day does not indicate that we have a mental illness. Life happens, and we muddle through on cloudy days.

Sometimes, people use mental health as a blanket term for all mental and emotional issues and concerns. Mental health encompasses daily functioning, being active and productive, building and maintaining healthy relationships, and the ability to change, cope, and solve everyday problems. That said, it also requires effort from each of us in the form of self-care.

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)recommends the following tips to get you started with self-care:

Another suggestion for administering self-care expounds on the importance of prioritizing sleep. You may benefit from planning your evenings around a peaceful routine, such as practicing mindfulness, relaxation techniques, or yoga. These activities can reduce the day’s stress, calm anxiety, and provide the tranquility needed to fall asleep quickly. Many of us also find peace and serenity by listening to music.

Our lives are busy, and many of us also care for others’ well-being, making self-care crucial for our overall health. How can we help others if we are not taking proper care of ourselves?

Mental Illness and Related Disorders

Mental illness is a diagnosed condition that affects behaviors, cognition, and emotions. It affects how a person feels, thinks, and experiences things around them. Of course, many people exhibiting symptoms of one or more illnesses have gone undiagnosed or unreported. If you or a loved one are among those individuals, help, treatment, and support are available, and we will discuss those further in this article.

 Differing mental illnesses have symptoms that may be similar but may vary in severity. Some common mental illness conditions are depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Others include post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), schizophrenia, and eating disorders. Each mental illness concern carries its severity level, but all need attention and possible treatment.

However, you and your loved ones do not have to suffer needlessly. We all need to care for ourselves, which means not only self-care but also seeking professional help if warranted. If you cannot sleep, have difficulty sleeping, have lost or gained weight without intention, have trouble concentrating, or have a problem facing each new day, consider seeking help. You can receive answers to questions you have probably been asking yourself and begin a journey of recovery and discovery.

Reaching Out for Information and Help

Sometimes, the hardest thing to do is to ask for help. However, you may be like so many of us and procrastinate, planning to reach out tomorrow. The only problem with that logic is sometimes tomorrow turns into the next day, and so forth. If you are uncomfortable seeking professional help, don’t rule it out, but speak to a friend, family member, or loved one. 

Sometimes hearing a different perspective is equivalent to knowledge and even acceptance of things previously dismissed. Active listening, dialog, and discourse with a person whose opinion you respect can be the first step in getting your life back on track. Your loved one can help you, as well, with encouragement and support while you are recovering. If you have difficulty deciding which person in which to confide, think about the most supportive person you know, and tell them. That person can also help you tell everyone else. 

When you decide it is time to find out if professional help is for you, have comfort knowing there are many avenues to explore. The NIMH provides a web page for mental health, crisis, and emergency phone numbers. Information includes care providers, federal resources, state and county agencies, and help for service members and their families.

At Sage Recovery, we believe that awareness and knowledge are fundamental parts of recovery. You don’t have to be alone in managing symptoms related to mental disorders and overall mental health or alcohol or substance dependency. We tailor our programs around you and help you manage mental health-related symptoms. We build a community that helps raise awareness and advocates for those in need. If you or a loved one are experiencing mental health issues or symptoms, or are experiencing alcohol or substance dependence, remember you are not alone. We can help with compassionate support and treatment. Please do not hesitate to ask for help. To find out more, call us today at (512) 306-1394.