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Mental Health: The Keystone of Holistic Well-Being

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18 min read

Imagine a person struggling with depression, unable to find joy in the things they once loved. They may have trouble getting out of bed in the morning and find it difficult to focus on work or school. This person may also experience chronic stress and physical symptoms such as headaches and fatigue. Now, imagine another person who can easily navigate the everyday stresses of life and find balance and contentment in their daily life. The difference between these two scenarios is the state of their mental well-being.

As per the Center for Disease Control (CDC), one in 25 persons in the United States lives with a severe mental illness, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depression.

Mental disorders, such as depression and anxiety, can significantly impact a person's overall well-being. These mental health problems can manifest in various ways, from feelings of psychological distress to thoughts of suicide. Stress, in particular, plays a big role in mental health and can lead to various physical illnesses and emotional issues.

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What Is Mental Health?

Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It is also essential at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood. Mental health also includes the absence of mental disorders. A person's mental health determines:

  • How do they handle stress
  • How they adapt to change
  • How they relate to others
  • How do they make healthy choices

A person with good mental health can cope with the everyday stresses of life, work productively, and make meaningful contributions to their community.  Likewise, people with good mental health can recognize and manage their emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. They have a sense of purpose, feel a sense of belonging, and can appreciate the beauty in life.

In contrast, mental health problems can take many forms, from short-term to long-term and mild to severe. Common psychological disorders include:

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Depression
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Schizophrenia

These disorders can cause various symptoms, such as sadness or hopelessness, difficulty concentrating, changes in sleep or appetite, and thoughts of suicide.

How Parents Affect Their Child's Mental Health

Research suggests that parental mental health is essential in developing a child's mental health. A parent's mental health condition can affect the child's development, especially during childhood and adolescence, which can continue to affect them in adulthood.

1 in 14 children has a caregiver with poor mental. The demands of raising a child can be challenging and can lead to the development of mental health disorders. It can also result in neglect and child abuse, causing children to develop anxiety and mood disorders.

Mental Health and Medical Conditions

Mental health and medical conditions are closely related and often co-occur. People with chronic medical conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer, are more likely to have a co-occurring mental health condition, such as depression or anxiety. Additionally, people with mental health conditions are more likely to have physical health problems, such as chronic pain and heart disease.

The Connection between Mental Health Disorders and Heart Disease Risk

According to the American Heart Association, depression, and anxiety can also develop after cardiac events, including heart failure, stroke, and heart attack.

People experiencing depression, anxiety, stress, and PTSD over a long period of time may experience.

  • Reduced blood flow to the heart
  • Heightened levels of cortisol

Risk factors for heart disease, such as high blood pressure, obesity, and smoking, may be more common in individuals with mental health issues. Additionally, biological factors, such as inflammation, may play a role in the connection between mental health disorders and heart disease.

Mental and physical health are closely connected and can affect each other. It is important to address mental and physical health to reduce the risk of heart disease.

Understanding the Link between Mental Illness and Substance Use

Mental illness and substance use are closely related and often co-occur. People with mental illnesses are more likely to use drugs and alcohol to cope with their symptoms. Similarly, people with substance use disorders are more likely to have a co-occurring mental illness.

Studies found that people with a mental disorder, such as anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), may use drugs or alcohol as a form of self-medication.

Substance use can develop mental health disorders or worsen the symptoms of existing mental illnesses. For example, alcohol and drugs can lead to depression and anxiety and increase the risk of developing psychosis.

The Impact of Social Media on Mental Health

Multiple studies have found a strong link between heavy social media and an increased risk for depression, anxiety, loneliness, self-harm, and even suicidal thoughts. Social media can also disrupt sleep patterns and contribute to feelings of FOMO (fear of missing out). For example, the blue light emitted by cell phone screens suppresses the production of melatonin, the hormone that controls your sleep-wake cycle.

On the other hand, some research suggests that social media can also have positive effects on mental health, such as by providing:

  • A sense of community
  • Emotional support
  • Social connections for people who may be isolated in real life

The Impact of Mental Health on Daily Life

Mental health disorders can profoundly impact an individual's ability to navigate the complexities of daily life, including the workplace. They can disrupt one's ability to engage in meaningful relationships, perform well in their job, and participate in social activities. Depression and anxiety cause 12 billion days of work to be missed worldwide every year and cost 1 trillion dollars in lost productivity annually.

It is a reminder that our mental well-being is integral to our existence, and any disturbance in it can cripple our ability to lead fulfilling lives. For example, poor working conditions risk mental health and well-being. These include:

  • Discrimination and inequality
  • Excessive workloads
  • Low job control
  • Job insecurity

It is essential to recognize that mental health disorders can be a source of immense suffering and can rob individuals of the ability to experience life to the fullest. It is also a call to action to prioritize mental health in the workplace and provide support and resources for struggling people.

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The Importance of Mental Health Care and Treatment

Despite the prevalence of mental health problems, there are ways to help. By understanding the impact of mental health on overall well-being, we can better recognize when we or someone we love may be struggling. By seeking help through therapy, medication, or lifestyle changes, we can improve our mental well-being and live a more fulfilling life.

90% percent of all suicide victims have a mental health condition. Furthermore, mental health problems are quite common and can affect anyone. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), people with severe mental health conditions die as much as two decades early due to preventable physical conditions. The WHO also estimates that 1 out of every four people will be impacted by poor mental health or mental illness at some point in their lives.

As a result, information, support, and resources are needed to help individuals living with mental health disorders. Mental health care and treatment can benefit individuals with mental health disorders. Some of the benefits include:

  • Increased functioning

With improved symptoms, individuals can function better in daily life, such as being able to return to work or school or improve their relationships. Mental health care and treatment also promote overall health and well-being.

  • Reduced risk of suicide

Proper mental health care and treatment can promote suicide prevention and reduce self-harm.

  • Increased self-awareness

Mental health care and treatment help individuals build emotional skills and self-awareness. By understanding their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, they can make positive changes.

  • Better quality of life

Mental health care and treatment help individuals improve the quality of their life by managing the symptoms of their mental health disorder, improving relationships, and increasing self-awareness.

  • Reduced burden on the system

Mental health care and treatment can reduce the burden on the healthcare system by preventing hospitalization and chronic illnesses associated with mental health disorders.

  • Prevention

Mental health care and treatment can also help with prevention, identifying early signs of mental health issues, and providing the proper support to prevent them from escalating.

Fortunately, several organizations are dedicated to helping people overcome mental health challenges. They provide social support, insights, and resources to help individuals improve their mental health and well-being.

WHO's Comprehensive Mental Health Action Plan

The World Health Organization's (WHO) Comprehensive Mental Health Action Plan 2013-2020 is a global plan aimed at improving mental health and well-being and reducing the burden of mental illness worldwide. The plan sets out clear actions for Member States, the WHO Secretariat, and international, regional, and national partners to:

  • Promote mental health and well-being for all
  • Prevent mental health conditions for those at-risk
  • Achieve universal coverage for mental health services

The National Alliance on Mental Health

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is a US-based nonprofit organization. It was originally founded as a grassroots group by family members of people diagnosed with mental illness.

Today, NAMI provides advocacy, education, support, and public awareness so all individuals and families affected by mental illness can build better lives.

National Council for Mental Wellbeing

The National Council for Mental Wellbeing is a membership organization founded in 1969. It aims to drive policy and social change for mental health and substance use treatment organizations and the individuals and families they serve. The organization advocates for policies to ensure equitable access to high-quality services and works to build the capacity of mental health and substance use treatment organizations. The National Council for Mental Wellbeing also promotes a greater understanding of mental well-being as a core component of comprehensive health and health care.

Through its Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) program, the organization has trained more than 2.6 million people in the United States to identify, understand, and respond to signs and symptoms of mental health and substance use challenges.

Habits to Improve Mental Wellbeing

Mental health treatment typically includes a combination of therapy, medication, and support from family and friends. But there are steps individuals can take in their daily lives to alleviate mental health problems.

Video and Text Therapy Services

Therapy can positively impact mental health by helping individuals understand and manage their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Additionally, therapy can provide a safe and supportive environment for individuals to process and work through past traumas or difficult experiences.

However, getting to a therapist's office may require more work in today's fast-paced world. As a result, teletherapy has grown in popularity. Almost 38% of Americans have used telehealth services to meet with a medical or mental health professional. Teletherapy services, including video and text therapy, are helpful for mental health in several ways:

  • Increased access to therapy: Teletherapy services make therapy more accessible to people living in remote areas, dealing with mobility issues, or those who find it challenging to take time off work to attend in-person therapy sessions.
  • Greater flexibility: People can access therapy from the comfort of their own homes and can communicate with their therapist at their own convenience.
  • Overcoming barriers: Teletherapy services can help people overcome barriers to accessing therapy, such as stigma, lack of transportation, or lack of availability of therapy services in their local area.
  • Continuity of care: Teletherapy services can help people continue receiving therapy, even if they cannot attend in-person sessions due to travel or other reasons.


Physical activity, including exercise, has positively impacted mental health. In the Journal of the American Medical Association, which included 39 clinical trials, exercise was associated with reduced depression symptoms and anxiety.

Physical activity does a range of different things for mental health, including:

  • Increase the release of endorphins: Endorphins are chemicals in the brain that promote happiness and well-being.
  • Increase cognitive function: Exercise has improved memory, attention, and overall cognitive function.
  • Improve sleep: Regular physical activity can improve sleep quality and duration. This is especially valuable for people who struggle with insomnia or other sleep disorders.
  • Reduce stress: Physical activity can help reduce stress by decreasing the production of stress hormones.


Studies have found that people who practice gratitude have lower levels of depression and are more satisfied with their lives. This shift in perspective can lead to increased hope and a sense of well-being, providing an excellent reason to make gratitude a regular practice.

Gratitude is a positive way to improve mental state and increase resilience during times of crisis or mental distress. It has been shown to help individuals focus on the good things in their personal lives rather than dwelling on negative experiences. Expressing gratitude can also lead to more positive social interactions, improved relationships, and a sense of connectedness.

Overall, gratitude is a powerful tool for mental health promotion. It is a form of self-care that helps people focus on the positive aspects of everyday life, cope with life's challenges, and promotes feelings of hope and contentment.


While there is no direct scientific proof that meditation can cure depression and anxiety, studies reveal that practicing meditation helps reduce stress response and anxiety

Meditation is a practice that involves focusing the mind on a particular object, thought, or activity to achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm state.

Learning New Skills

Engaging in pleasurable and satisfying activities can be a healthy distraction from negative thoughts or situations. Numerous studies reveal that acquiring new skills and hobbies can positively affect mental health. Learning new skills or hobbies can help individuals feel more confident and capable, leading to improved self-esteem. It also enables individuals to connect with others with similar interests and build support networks.


Mental well-being is a crucial aspect of overall wellness because it is closely linked to physical health and quality of life. Mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety, can negatively impact an individual's ability to function in daily life, including their ability to work, form relationships, and enjoy leisure activities.

Leaders and societies are responsible for prioritizing mental health care to support the well-being of their citizens and communities. This includes providing access to mental health services, such as therapy and medication, as well as addressing the social determinants of mental health, such as poverty, discrimination, and lack of social support.

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A society with a higher percentage of individuals with better mental health outcomes is stronger and more resilient. It's time for us to prioritize mental health as much as physical health.

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