Mental Health Definition | Diagnosing Mental Disorders

For most Americans, our health — especially our mental health — often is taken for granted until something goes awry. Only then will we recognize just how vital health is to our sense of happiness and fulfillment.

After all, within today’s technological, fast-paced world, there are oftentimes a number of fast treatments for physical conditions, yet not for mental ones. Treatments for mental health, if anything, take patience and time for optimal results. To know exactly what’s meant by ‘mental health,’ we must initially determine what the overarching idea of ‘health’ means.

In past times, scientists defined health merely as ‘the absence of illness or disease.’ But, in 1948, as the WHO (World Health Organization) was founded, this definition of health was set up: ‘The complete state of social, mental and physical well-being and not just the absence of infirmity or disease.’

Seeing this definition, we recognize that people can at once be virtually healthy in a few aspects of life (that is, regular blood pressure of 120/80), yet unhealthy in other ones (that is, suffering with depression). Therefore, being healthy isn’t an ‘all-or-nothing’ principle.


It’s simple to evaluate physical health by taking some health status measurements of the human body. Temperature, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels, all are exact means by which we could tell if the physical elements of the human body are healthy. But, social and mental elements of health are more difficult to evaluate. Perceptions and thoughts of inside states are subjective and challenging to quantify. Then, what’s mental health?


As determined by the Surgeon General’s Report upon Mental Health, mental health ‘will refer to the successful conduction of mental functionality, resulting within productive tasks, fulfilling relationships with others, and the capability of adapting to change and coping with adversity.’ On the other side of the continuum includes mental illness, a phrase which ‘will refer to every mental disorder. Mental disorders include health conditions which are characterized by changes in behavior, thinking or mood (or a combination thereof) related to impaired functioning and/or distress.’


This concept of a continuum views mental health upon one end as ‘a successful mental functioning’ as compared with mental illness, and on the other hand, as ‘an impaired functioning.’


One key to comprehending mental illness and mental health includes determining these phrases in cultural contexts. The Western idea of mental health separates total health into 3 categories; Eastern concept sees health in terms of bodily systems that are working together in harmony. ‘Disharmony’ or imbalance includes the cause of illness and will result from psychological, physical, environmental, nutritional, or spiritual influences tipping this balance.


Why be concerned about your mental health?


Why ought to American people be concerned with their mental health? The best answer is this: without being mentally healthy, a person can’t consider himself ‘healthy’ in the real sense of the term. However, more importantly, mental health will affect our social and physical health.


Scientists in health psychology have performed multiple studies wherein mental conditions like social support or depression affected the outcomes of gastrointestinal disorders, pregnancy, as well as heart disease. Aspects of our mental health not just will affect our emotional states, yet our body’s biological and physiological states, too. Social and psychological factors were linked to physical disease states within 3 ways: (1) host vulnerability (2) disease stability and (3) psychophysiological hyperactivity.


Although psychophisiological hyperactivity sounds as if it’s a complex idea, it merely means that there’s continual mental stress being placed upon the body. If a person is continually exposed to stressful environments, the body’s capability of fighting infection is decreased.


Within all of its forms, stress from mental to job-associated, affects physical health within various ways. Consistent work strain, associated with perceived levels of work control, and decreased social support levels have been proven to increase threats of cardiovascular disease. Psychological stress that results from both personal and work life has been proven to raise the threat for heart disease. Stresses related to migration from culture to culture has proven a worsening in existing physical conditions, like cancer, particularly in which there was a perceived decrease of social support.


Disease stability will refer to how social or psychological factors might influence existing disease. For example, individuals with asthma may never precisely know when an asthma attack is going to happen or how serious their attack will be. However, attacks and seriousness could be influenced by psychosocial factors like the degree of stress within the person’s immediate environment. The greater this stress the individual is experiencing, the greater the opportunity for a serious attack.


Host vulnerability includes the prolonged effects of stress upon the body. In essence, a ‘host’ or patient is much more susceptible to illness and disease due to exposure to mental stressors. The idea has been validated by studies that display that individuals are much more likely to catch a common cold while they’re under stress.


As we visit the physician to describe a physical condition (that is, stomach pains), those physical symptoms or complaints might be affected by the mental stress we’ve encountered in our day-to-day lives. Add to this mental stress a sense of isolation and loss of social support and most physical complaints might be prolonged or exacerbated. In effect, those 3 ideas illustrate how inextricably connected the elements of social, metal and physical health are associated. To more effectively treat those conditions we have to therefore treat the whole individual—the soul, the body and the mind of a person.




You might evaluate your own mental health via the usage of Internet mental health exams. If the results cause concern, you might want to seek an assessment from a psychiatrist or psychologist. These experts usually use extended written exams alongside a personal interview to assess your mental health. Within most instances, they’ll be searching for a well-known mental condition and pronounce you mentally healthy if nothing is discovered.




The conventional definition of mental health as an absence of a mental health condition was added on to with the concept of maximum mental health by psychologists like Maslow with his ‘Hierarchy of Needs.’ Mental health isn’t an ‘either/or’ proposition, yet instead a continuum with mentally ill individuals on the bottom, average individuals in the center and extraordinary individuals on the top, according to Maslow.


He believed individuals have trouble satisfying basic necessities and that just after meeting those necessities are they free to search for contentment of their ‘higher needs.’ The ones who’ve met their lower needs, as well as are preoccupied with satisfying their higher needs will be said to have maximum mental health. Those needs, within ascending order from lower toward higher, include safety needs, biological needs, need for belonging and love, need for respect from others and self and a need for self-actualization. Self-actualization will mean to be ‘all that you could be’ when it comes to creativity and productivity.


Methods of Accomplishing Maximum Mental Health


To improve your mental health level, you must maintain yourself in various ways. One way includes taking care of your physical health—i.e., to exercise, eat, and properly sleep. You must seek to establish at the minimum of one honest, intimate, relationship in your lifetime and talk over your worries with this individual. You must seek productive fulfillment via your hobby or occupation. You mustn’t spare any effort in preserving your personal integrity, even if this requires sacrifice. You must make an effort to be aware of your feelings and thoughts and modify them as they grow counterproductive.






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