Mental Health Concepts
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Mental health is a state of mental well-being that enables people to deal with the pressures of life, to fulfil their abilities, to learn and work well, and to contribute to their communities. It is an essential building block for health and well-being, underpinning our individual and collective ability to make decisions, build relationships and shape the world in which we live. Mental health is a basic human right. It is essential for personal, social and socio-economic development.
Mental health is more than the absence of mental disorders.It exists on a complex continuum, experienced differently by each person, with varying degrees of difficulty and ailments, and potentially vastly different social and clinical outcomes.
Mental disorders include mental disorders and psychosocial disabilities as well as other mental disorders associated with significant distress, impairment of function or risk of self-harm. People with mental illness are more likely to experience poorer mental well-being, but not always or necessarily.
Determinants of Mental Health
Throughout our lives, many individual, social, and structural factors can act together to protect or alter our mental health and alter our position on the mental health continuum.
Individual psychological and biological factors such as emotional abilities, substance use, and genetics can make people more vulnerable to mental health problems.
Exposure to social, economic, geopolitical and environmental disadvantages – including poverty, violence, inequality and environmental deprivation – also increases the risk of mental illness.
Threats can occur at any stage of life, but those that occur during sensitive developmental periods, particularly early childhood, are particularly harmful. For example, harsh parenting and corporal punishment are known to damage children's health, while bullying is a major risk factor for mental illness.Protective factors are also present throughout life and serve to strengthen the immune system. These include, but are not limited to, our individual social and emotional skills and traits, as well as positive social interactions, quality education, decent work, safe neighbourhoods and community cohesion.
Mental health risks and protective factors are found at different levels in society. Local hazards increase risks for individuals, families and communities. Global threats put entire populations at risk and include economic downturns, epidemics, humanitarian emergencies and forced displacements, and the growing climate crisis.
Each individual risk and protective factor has only limited predictive power. Most people do not develop mental health despite being exposed to a risk factor, and many people with no known risk factors go on to develop mental health. However, interacting determinants of mental health contribute to improving or weakening mental health.
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