What is mental health and why should you care?

It is so obvious to us that we should monitor our physical health, even as a 5-year-old kid, we knew that we had to cover a cut with a band-aid so as not to get the wound infected. Before we could tie our shoelaces, we were taught the importance of brushing twice a day, so as to avoid tooth decay. We have all known how to practice our physical health since we were kids but how many of us know how to take care of our psychological health? There are so many of us who fail to prioritize themselves and suffer from poor psychological hygiene.


Understanding Mental Health

Mental health refers to psychological, social, and emotional well-being. It is a state where a person can have satisfaction and contentment despite all the problems, challenges and upheavals of life.

The World Health Organization (WHO) puts it quite concisely. It states that mental health is a state of well-being in which the individual realizes their abilities, can cope with the everyday stresses of life, work productively and fruitfully, and contribute to their community.

The best way to think of mental health is as a continuum, not as black and white. We can locate both depression and happiness along a continuum. Positive well-being is on one end of the continuum, with extreme mental disorders at the other end. We move along this continuum because our lives change, and changing life circumstances can cause periods of stress, which often result in our moving downward in the continuum. Factors such as genetic predispositions and childhood experiences shift people's scores up and down this spectrum, usually without anyone even being aware of it.

While we are familiar with the idea of mental illness, proper mental health is not necessarily just the absence of illness or disorder. To be mentally happy, we must be able to understand ourselves and what our needs are, know how to communicate our needs to others, hear what others have to say in an empathetic way, and resolve differences.


Why should you care about mental health?

Physical injuries are easier to treat because we know exactly how to treat them, we know exactly how to ease our aches and pain and we know what steps to take to prevent them from getting worse. We have understood back pain, cancer, or other physical ailments better because there are ways to see what is wrong.

Unfortunately, the same is not true for mental illnesses. We sustain psychological injuries more often than physical injuries in our everyday lives and still don't understand the interplay of our emotions. We all have a default set of feelings and beliefs that get triggered whenever we encounter frustration and setbacks. These include feelings of failure, guilt, loneliness, rejection, low self-esteem, brooding and rumination. It is important to care about our mental health because these feelings can worsen and impact our lives in dramatic ways when ignored.


What can be the causes of Mental Illness?

The exact cause of mental illnesses is not known. Through research, it has been identified that many factors contribute to the onset of mental illness. The elements can be categorized as -

  • Biological Factors (genetic-mental disorders runs in the family)
  • Psychological Factors (childhood abuse, trauma, neglect, grief, discrimination)
  • Social Factors (peer pressure, media)
  • Certain health factors that affect the brain.

​​​​​​​For example, complications during childbirth, brain infection by a virus (encephalitis) increase the risk of mental illness later on in life.


How can one take care of their Mental Health?

Much of stress management boils down to small, positive lifestyle changes. By incorporating a small daily routine that helps us deal with difficult situations, we give our mind and body the chance to process them healthily and recover. We can change our mindset and interpret situations differently rather than telling ourselves that we can't make it through a challenging situation or stressing out about something beyond our control. It won't work every time, but it will work more often than not.

It is very natural to feel very low and demoralized at times. If our mental health is in good shape, we can think through things before reacting and have that split-second moment to weigh things that just happened to us. We can break the cycle of our negative thoughts before it even begins. This quote by Dan Millman fits aptly in this context. "You don't have to control your thoughts. You just have to stop letting them control you."

It's important to acknowledge that we all have mental health, and it's our responsibility to learn how we can improve it to lead meaningful and satisfying lives.

Our company WAI (Who Am I), has been striving since 2015 to help children as well as adults identify their inborn potential through various methods. We're empowering corporates, institutions, and wellness professionals with tools for the mind in the mental well-being industry.

We hope this blog was able to provide some valuable insight. We also have some other informative articles waiting to be read on our blog. If you have questions or need additional information or support, please feel free to contact us at info@wai.guru.