Articles & Advice About Mental Health
For additional help & support with your concerns
Medically reviewed by Andrea Brant, LMHC
Please be advised, the below article might mention trauma-related topics that include abuse which could be triggering to the reader. If you or someone you love is experiencing abuse, contact the Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). Free one-on-one support is available 24/7. Please also see our Get Help Now page for more immediate resources.
What is mental health?
Mental health refers to wellness of the mind. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), mental health is a state of well-being in which individuals realize their abilities, can cope with the stresses of life, can work productively, and can make positive contributions to their communities.
Stable mental health may cause you to perceive yourself as more equipped to manage daily challenges and more aware of your limits. When you get thrown off track, you may have a healthy repertoire of coping techniques to help you move forward.
Those with poor mental health may be living with a challenge like a mental illness, chronic stress, relationship challenges, and other difficult life circumstances. These difficulties may cause challenges in functioning at school, work, or home.
How common are mental health conditions?
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), one in five adults in the United States has a mental illness. This number amounts to millions of children, adolescents, and adults.
In the past century, advancements have been made in treating these conditions. Whether one lives with anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a substance use disorder, a personality disorder, or any other mental health condition, treatment is available. To get started, knowing what signs to look for and how to seek early intervention can be helpful.
How does mental illness affect emotional health?
According to The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) in the United States, in 2015, it was estimated that 9.8 million adults (4.8%) over 18 had a severe mental illness. Mental illness doesn't discriminate. A person of any age, race, gender, class, or religion can have a mental illness during their lifetime. In addition, some conditions can be hereditary, so it can be crucial to visit a mental health professional if you're having symptoms of a condition someone in your family has been diagnosed with.
According to the same research, 50% of all mental health conditions start by age 14, and 75% develop by the time a person is 24. Knowing if an individual has a mental health condition during adolescence can be challenging because this life stage often involves significant changes, including mood shifts. Those with a mental health condition during adolescence may have an increased chance of recovery if they receive support.
Several stigmas surround mental illness, which can reduce access to care for certain groups. For that reason, studies showcase the importance of receiving accurate and up-to-date information about mental health conditions and symptoms.
Although "mental illness" might seem like a negative term, it refers to real conditions that can have real symptoms, like physical illnesses. The advice section aims to provide readers with accurate information about the various mental health conditions people live with.
In these articles, readers can learn about the behavioral or emotional challenges they may encounter in themselves or their loved ones. The categories in the advice section offer expert insight into the various areas of mental health. Support is available if you're diagnosed with or living with any mental health condition. Talking about mental health and having accurate information may help you fight for destigmatization.
What are the signs of mental illness?
Everyone has unique experiences with mental illness, and different mental health diagnoses have different symptoms. However, there may be a few signs that can indicate an individual has a mental health condition, including but not limited to the following:
- Isolating from people, including loved ones
- Losing interest in previously enjoyed activities
- Sleep changes (insomnia or hypersomnia)
- Overeating or undereating
- Thoughts of hopelessness or worthlessness
- Substance misuse
- Difficulty engaging in day-to-day activities such as going to school or work
- Difficulty keeping up with hygiene
- Hearing voices
- Suicidal thoughts or urges
- Avoiding people, places, items, or situations due to fear or an experience
If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts or urges, call the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988 or text 988 to talk to a crisis provider over SMS. They are available 24/7 to offer support. 988 also offers an online chat for those with an internet connection.
If any of the symptoms above disrupt your functioning, consult a mental health professional. Further, if someone you love is experiencing these symptoms, you may make a difference by encouraging them to seek help. Mental illness is often treatable with therapy and medication. However, consult a doctor before starting, changing, or stopping any medication or medical treatment for mental health.
Mental health treatment options
There are various treatment options available for managing mental health challenges. However, everyone is unique. What works for you might not work for someone else. Below are a few options to consider.
People who live with chronic mental health challenges may benefit from therapy. Over 41.7 million US adults see a therapist, and there are over 400 modalities available, ensuring a type of treatment for a wide range of symptoms. If you're unsure what type of therapy might be right for you, consider speaking with a therapist in your local area or seeing a provider online.
Some individuals with mental illness take psychiatric medication to manage their symptoms. If you live with a chronic condition like bipolar disorder, psychotropic medication may improve your quality of life. Consider consulting a psychiatrist if you want to learn about medicine's benefits.
Self-care and lifestyle changes
Self-care can be a crucial element in maintaining stable mental health. Although not a medical treatment, it is often prescribed as a lifestyle change clients of therapy can use to cope with challenges alongside other treatments. A few self-care techniques that might be recommended include eating healthy foods, practicing sleep hygiene, and learning to set healthy boundaries. Having a stable support system of friends and family who love you and care about your well-being can also help you stay mentally healthy.
Common mental health challenges
Below are several of the most common mental health challenges that people face. You are not alone if you resonate with the symptoms in these categories. Support is widely available in person and online, and you don't have to have a mental illness or a diagnosis to seek help.
Anxiety disorders are one of the most common types of mental illness. They include the following:
- Panic disorder
- Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
- Specific phobias
- Social anxiety disorder
- Separation anxiety disorder
- Selective mutism
- Substance or medication-induced anxiety disorder
- Anxiety disorder due to another medical condition
- Other specified anxiety disorder
Although previously listed as anxiety disorders, in the DSM-5, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is listed under obsessive-compulsive and related disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is listed under trauma and stressor-related disorders.
You can read more about anxiety disorders in the anxiety advice section. In this section, you may learn how to regulate your nervous system during the fight-flight-freeze response and find ways to cope with panic attacks or support a loved one, among other topics.
In the panic attacks section, you can read about severe anxiety and conditions like panic disorder. Panic attacks are sudden and debilitating episodes of fear and physical symptoms that come up quickly. During a panic attack, the individual may experience dread and symptoms like tremors, sweatiness, and chest pain.
Post-traumatic stress disorder
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a condition that develops after experiencing a traumatic event. Individuals with this condition may experience mental and sensorial flashbacks that remind them of the trauma. In addition, they may experience avoidance, depression, and anxiety. In the PTSD section, you can read more about the symptoms of PTSD and how to find support.
In the depression advice section, you may learn about the common misconceptions surrounding depression, one of the most prominent mental health conditions worldwide. Depression is highly treatable, so reading about the common treatments for this condition may give you a sense of hope and positivity.
In the bipolar disorder section, you can find resources for treating bipolar disorder and information about the highs and lows of this condition. Those with bipolar disorder may experience manic or hypomanic episodes followed by depression. Understanding the unique symptoms of this condition may help you distinguish it from similar conditions, like depression.
What influences mental health?
When working on your mental health, it may be helpful to consider the factors that can affect it. Outside influences, such as your environment, and inside influences, such as your genetics and temperament, may have significant impacts. Below are more influences you can read about in the advice section.
Behavior is often a primary indicator of mental health. In the behavior advice section, you can learn more about productive and dysfunctional behaviors. You may also find advice about changing your behaviors through techniques like cognitive-behavioral therapy. If you're interested in discovering which mental illnesses include problematic behaviors as a symptom, you can learn more in this section.
While anger is a healthy human emotion, it can sometimes seem out of control. In the anger section, you can read about different anger challenges and find tips for anger management. In addition, you can learn more about the warning signs of anger management difficulties and how to develop coping strategies.
When a person is a survivor of abuse, it may severely impact their mental health. There are many types of abuse, including but not limited to emotional, sexual, medical, physical, financial, and mental abuse. In addition, neglect and child abuse are unique forms of abuse. In the abuse category, you can read about various forms of abuse, what they may entail, and how to find support.
Healthy attachments can positively impact mental health. When healthy attachments are not formed at a young age, it can contribute to mental health challenges or mental illness. According to attachment theory, each person develops an attachment style based on how their needs were met as infants or children. In the attachment advice section, you can learn about attachment styles and what challenges can arise when people develop unhealthy attachments.
Bullying is a serious offense in which a person or group of people torments another individual or group. While it commonly occurs at school, it can also occur in the workplace, known as workplace harassment or mobbing. Bullying can also happen to adults, often through cyberbullying (online bullying).
Bullying can severely impact a person's mental health, potentially causing mental health conditions like depression or anxiety. In the bullying advice section, you can learn how to spot the signs of bullying in yourself or your child and understand how to seek support.
Love is often an ingredient in finding secure attachment and connection. In the love advice section, you can learn more about finding healthy forms of love, whether with family members, friends, or romantic partners. In this section, you can read about how to preserve and express love.
Alternative support options
In the advice section, you can learn more about your mental health condition, gain insight into your struggles, and find up-to-date coping strategies. However, note that advice articles do not replace the compassionate guidance of a mental health professional.
If you prefer receiving mental health support online, online therapy platforms like BetterHelp may be effective. You can choose between phone, video, or live chat sessions with a provider through an online platform, which may offer more convenience. In addition, some online therapists offer session slots outside of standard business hours for those with busy daily schedules.
Research conducted by the American Psychological Association (APA) and other organizations has shown that online cognitive-behavioral therapy is as effective as in-person CBT. CBT is an approach that teaches clients how to recognize and reframe unhelpful thoughts to promote healthier, more productive ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving. Further studies have also found that conditions like depression, anxiety, panic disorder, OCD, PTSD, bipolar disorder, chronic pain, and phobias can be successfully managed and treated with online CBT.
Mental health can be unique and subjective. Regardless of where you are on your mental health journey, support is available. Maintaining well-being can be difficult. However, with positive support and tools, living a healthy, productive life can be possible. If you're struggling with your mental health, consider connecting with a therapist online or in your area for more personalized advice.