We all have mental health, just as we all have physical health. Our mental health, like our physical health, doesn’t always stay the same. We all experience times when we feel low or stressed, frightened or anxious. Most of the time these feelings pass.
Mental illness refers to a wide range of mental health conditions – disorders that can affect our mood, thinking and behaviour. Examples of mental illness include depression, anxiety disorders, psychosis, bipolar disorder and eating disorders.
Good mental health enables us to build healthy relationships at home, school or work, where ever we need to feel accepted, included and safe. With good mental health we are able to cope with life, bouncing back from the difficulties and problems that come our way.
About mental illness
At any one time 25% of us may be experiencing a diagnosable mental health problem. This affects everyone in different ways, but there are some common symptoms:
We may behave in a particularly unusual or confusing way. This may get in the way of our life for example, we may find it difficult to leave the house.
We may appear disorganised, find it difficult to concentrate, we may even appear irrational. This could interfere with our ability to hold a conversation, to manage at work or carry out necessary tasks such as paying bills.
Whilst our mood varies throughout the day, with mental illness mood swings may be more severe impacting on our relationships with others and the way we communicate.
Mental illness may affect the way we interpret the world through our senses. We may hear voices or see unusual things. Sometimes we may find it scary and difficult to hold conversations whilst experiencing auditory or visual hallucinations.
The above symptoms can disturb our daily routines and interactions with others so significantly that we withdraw from social contact, spending more and more time on our own. This can make us lonely and increase our anxiety and further lower self-esteem. Relationships struggle as we may stop seeing or communicating with friends and loved ones and avoid going to work or school, further breaking down our personal relationships with others. This could eventually lead to entirely forgetting how to interact – losing the social skills and ability to communicate that many take for granted.