Differences between mental health and mental illness

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Differences between mental health and mental illness

Differences between mental health and mental illness

Mental health and mental illness are terms used interchangeably, yet there are differences between mental health and mental illness. Basically, mental health refers to mental well-being which involves our feelings, emotions and thoughts. It also involves our ability to deal with problems in every-day life, or to solve problems. Mental health also relates to our personal satisfaction in social roles and inclusion. The World Health Organisation describes mental health in terms of well-being which involves realising one’s potential, and to be able to cope with life stresses, with an addition factor of working productively and contributing to one’s community (Gilmour, 2014). It may be strongly argued however, that for one to be mentally healthy, one need not necessarily need to be working productively (in paid employment). People struggling with mental health challenges may not be able to work in a paid position full-time, or at all, yet contribute to society in other ways. Alternatively, one may be in a life stage of successful aging, and may not be deemed as working productively (by subjective personal opinions), and yet be in very good mental health. It could also be argued that mental health is a lack of mental illness, although there is also a belief that the absence of mental illness does not imply the presence of mental health.  A simpler concept of mental health is where one feels good and functional in life (Gilmour, 2014).

A general description of mental illness could be that it involves a broad range of medical illnesses that have symptoms involving disorders of thought, feeling and behaviour, and/or impairment in functioning in relation to a social, psychological, genetic, chemical or biological disturbance.

While thinking of mental illness, many people will immediately recognise disorders/ illnesses such as depression, schizophrenia, bi-polar, and other disorders such as dementia. But of course there are hundreds of different disorders (including the more serious illnesses) as listed in the DSM5 (Diagnostic And Statistical Manual Of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition).

There are particular theories/theorists which believe that mental health (disorders etc.) is not a brain/chemical based means of contributing to (or even partly the cause of) disorders in general. Others certainly do recognise mental disorders or illnesses as having some biological element or similar contributions (chemical etc.), which strongly relates to any given psychiatric diagnosis. Whatever any particular theories may suggest and without delving into scientific reasoning and the like, mental health can be interpreted as maintaining or striving to improve mental, cognitive and emotional well-being and maintaining homeostasis (or balanced well-being).

Differences between mental health and mental illness

Differences between mental health and mental illness

One purpose of Beyond My Label is to be a supportive network of information based on particular mental health issues and not to get ‘lost’ in technical jargon. However, much respect is deserved of professionals such as psychologists in the mysterious field of mental health. Other scientific information can be gained or accessed through other web sites. Articles on Beyond My Label are more intended to talk about living with and overcoming mental health problems through personal insights and experiences and relating more to therapeutic types of interventions in dealing with psychiatric problems.

Whatever the exact actual causes or reasons may be, mental health issues are a very real and relevant topic of concern in our society and indeed in all of human-kind. Many people nowadays do perceive mental health disorders as genuine medical disorders. Perhaps we could look at mental health (disorders/ illnesses) as being mentally unwell, or maybe not having any clinical diagnosis as being seen more as ‘mentally well’, but I personally like a theory which suggests that mental ‘health’ or ‘illness’ are not complete opposites. It covers a much broader area than just not having any given diagnosis.

So, regardless of varying definitions and beliefs, it may be useful to look at ideas from different angles, but one may assume that we would generally agree that mental health is a very in-depth field, and the reality is that many people do have a clinical diagnosis. Of course, the intention of this site is not to dwell on any clinical diagnosis as we are so much more than a label.

“I am more than a label!”

Differences between mental health and mental illness

Best wishes for now, and thank you for reading ‘differences between mental health and mental illness’, and for visiting Beyond My Label.

Paul.

Reference:

Gilmour, H. (2014). Positive mental health and mental illness. Health Reports, 25(9), 3.

Differences between mental health and mental illness

Differences between mental health and mental illness

Recommended website: www.mymentalhealth.org.au

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