Mental Health & Wellbeing
There are many different definitions of mental health/wellbeing but they generally include areas such as: life satisfaction, optimism, self esteem, mastery and feeling in control, having a purpose in life, and a sense of belonging and support.
During the course of their life most people will visit a doctor for an issue related to their physical health, at least once. Your mental health is no different! Just as you may have stomach cramps or a cold from time to time, you can also suffer from very low moods or feel overly irritable. Our body and mind respond to situations in our lives, both good and bad. So just as you take care of yourself when you have the flu, it is important to take care of your mental health when you don’t feel your best. It is also important to remember that the same way you eat fruit and vege, keep hydrated and exercise in order to keep your immune system strong and prevent physical illness, there are things you can do to “exercise” your mind as well! However, some people can experience severe mental distress that causes great disruption to their daily life often without any visible cause or stressful situation. In such cases a mental health professional might diagnose such people with a particular type of mental illness.
Therefore it is important to distinguish between:
- Mental health difficulties: Feelings of mental and emotional distress (e.g. feeling low, anxious, stressed) that are brought on by life situations. These feelings can be quite strong and have a significant effect on your life but can usually be helped through self-help and/or low to medium interventions and are not a diagnosable illness.
- Mental illness: Mental illness refers to a diagnosable condition that significantly interferes with an individual’s cognitive, emotional or social abilities e.g. depression, anxiety, schizophrenia. We all suffer from symptoms of mental health difficulties (e.g low mood, anxiety, insomnia, etc.) from time to time, but having a mental illness means that those symptoms have a chronic and significant impact on a person’s daily life for a longer period of time.
(adapted from http://www.nhsinform.co.uk/mentalhealth/)
Common symptoms of mental distress:
(source: NUS survey)
|Lack of energy or motivation||Anxiety||Can’t stop moving, thinking||(Thoughts of) self-harm||Sudden mood changes|
|Feeling unhappy/down/low||Irritability or anger||Irritability or anger||Suicidal thoughts||Hypersensitivity to others|
|Depressed feeling||Stress||Too much energy / feeling like you are going to burst||Drinking alcohol to cope||Paranoia|
|Feeling of hopelessness / worthlessness||Panic||Using drugs||Another feeling of distress|
|Numbness / lack of emotion||Insomnia / trouble sleeping|
Our thermometer can help you gauge your state of mental health and guide you to the appropriate services available.