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What is mental health

Mental health is a term used to describe a state of emotional well-being and an absence of mental disorders.  The World Health Organization defines mental health as "a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community". Simply put, mental health is the way one thinks, feels and copes with life and everyday situations. Mental health defines the ways of handling stress, making different choices or relating to the others.

Maintaining mental health

Back in the 19th century, William Sweetzer was the first to clearly define the term "mental hygiene". The term was crafted to designate the importance of constant work on promoting positive mental health. Maintaining mental health is not always easy, especially during stressful times, and mental hygiene is important to preserve full mental potential and prevent mental illness. Mental hygiene is very important as it focuses not on treatment of mental illness, but early prevention and promotion of mental health. Excessive anxiety and pressure can add to various physical problems such as heart disease, ulcers, and colitis. Anxiety and constant stress can also weaken the immune system, making people more vulnerable to conditions ranging from the common cold to cancer. Psychological problems are also connected with various behavioral choices that can worsen medical problems: smoking, excessive alcohol or drug use, poor eating habits, and reckless behavior.

Mental illness

There is no consensus among scientists about what exactly causes mental illnesses. Most of the scientists believe that psychiatric disorders are usually the result of multiple interacting and contributing factors: physical, social, environmental and psychological causes.

Physical causes usually involve genetic heritage or traumatic head injuries or other kind of deformities. Recent studies have also found that vitamin and mineral deficiencies such as Vitamin D, zinc and certain fatty acids may also be related to our mental health.

Social causes are different environmental factors such as family and social relationships, profession, the way one works and relaxes, physical environments, and stress. Support from the others, or lack of support, is especially important and severely affects one’s chances to cope with stress and pressure.

Psychological factors are one’s psychological mental and emotional state. Psychological factors are most determinant by how one is copes with traumatic experiences or an abusive past. Psychological factors are also crucial in life’s turning points, such as divorce or the deaths of loved ones.

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