Doctor's Search

Mental Health vs. Mental Illness

August 5, 2015

Mental Health, what’s that?

Mental Health is not simply the absence of mental illness or disorder. It describes:

‘The capacity of individuals within groups and the environment to interact with one another in ways that promote subjective well-being, optimal development and use of mental abilities (cognitive, affective and relational) and achievement of individual and collective goals consistent with justice.’

It can include:
* self-esteem
* self confidence
* feeling in control of your life
* feeling a sense of belonging in your family or local community

It can be reflected in the use of various skills:
* communication
* assertiveness
* problem solving
* decision-making

What is mental illness?

The term mental illness means the same as mental disorder.  A Mental disorder is a diagnosable illness that significantly interferes with an individual’s cognitive, emotional or social abilities. Mental disorders are of different types and degrees of severity and some of the major mental disorders perceived to be public health issues are depression, anxiety, substance use disorders, psychosis and dementia.

A Mental health problem also interferes with a person’s cognitive, emotional or social abilities, but to a lesser extent than a mental disorder. Mental health problems are more common mental complaints and include the mental ill health temporarily experienced as a reaction to life stresses. Mental health problems are less severe and of shorter duration than mental disorders, but may develop into a mental disorder. The distinction between mental health problems and mental disorders is not well defined and is made on the basis of severity and duration of the symptoms.

Mental health literacy means:
* Having the knowledge and beliefs about mental disorders which aid their recognition, management or prevention
* Having the ability to recognise specific disorders;
* Knowing how to seek mental health information
* Knowledge of risk factors and causes, of self-treatments and of professional help available
* Holding attitudes that promote recognition and appropriate help-seeking