Treating mental health like physical health

3 out of 4 people experience some type of mental disorder by the age of 50.

25% of people living in the WHO European Region are affected by a mental disorder.

Depression is one of the leading causes of disability.

It might be easier to understand what mental health is if we compare it to physical health. Imagine being physically healthy and fit to play a 1-hour football game. After the game, you feel tired; and some parts of your body may even hurt due to tackles and hits from the opposing team. This does not mean that you are physically injured or physically ill. You just need some rest so that in a few days, you would be able to play another football game. Playing frequently can help the person feel even physically fitter, while on the other hand, doing no sports or exercise whatsoever increases the chance that the person does not have good physical health. There are occasions where playing a football game can cause an injury or maybe even a serious injury. This person would need to go to a doctor or any other professional so that a diagnosis is given and treatment and therapy is provided. This is where the road to recovery starts.

Our Mental Health is the same. We should not classify people as being either ‘normal’ or ‘mental’. “Mental health and illness exist along a continuum moving away from well-being to mild, time-limited distress through to more chronic, progressive, and severely disabling mental disorders.”

Mental Health Strategy for Malta 2020 – 2030

There are some situations where we’re doing fine, but then a tough period at work would cause burnout. This does not mean that we are mentally ill; this means that we need some period of rest to recover and be able to return to being productive. Similarly, working and using our talents can not only help us feel good, but it can even help us be mentally healthier. There are other occasions in life which would be very difficult or maybe even traumatic for us. These could lead for our mental health to deteriorate. It is possible that just as a person can get physically ill or injured, going through a very tough patch in life could lead to a mental health illness. Just like with a physical illness or injury, a person can seek professional help and through a diagnosis, treatment and/or therapy; the person’s road to recovery starts.

“Mental health is the sum of our psychological, emotional and social well-being. It affects the way we think, feel and behave” – Richmond Foundation

Richmond Foundation

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