Brain Basics: What is Mental Health, Anyway?
Our mental health is constantly changing
Mental health describes our state of being, both emotionally (how we feel) and cognitively (our ability to think clearly or process information).
Though we often tend to think of health in terms of our physical body, it is actually impossible to discuss health without addressing mind and brain health. This is because our state of emotional and cognitive being colors everything: How we think, how we feel and act, and how we deal with stress and relate socially.
Just as everyone occasionally gets a cold, the flu, injuries, cuts, scrapes and bruises, our mental health, too, is constantly changing.
Our brain is our control center, and our mental health fluctuates depending on the way our brain is processing the experiences we’re having and the environments we’re exposed to.
Even as powerful as our minds are, we don’t have to let our thoughts and feelings run our lives. Understanding the relationship between what we think, feel and how we (re)act is key to understanding and managing mental health challenges.
As many as 1 in 5 teens will experience a mental health challenge, and research indicates that only about half of even those with acute problems will get the help they need. But suffering in silence can lead to deteriorating physical health, unhealthy coping habits, and even suicide, the second leading cause of death for 15-24 year olds.
The good news is that recovery is totally possible. Once we learn to identify the signs and what it feels like when we start to feel bad, the quicker and easier we can do what’s needed to start feeling better.