We all experience emotional ups and downs from time to time caused by events in our lives. Mental health conditions go beyond these emotional reactions and become something longer lasting. They are medical conditions that cause changes in how we think and feel and in our mood. They are not the result of personal weakness, lack of character or poor upbringing.
With proper treatment, people can realize their full potential, cope with the stresses of life, work productively and meaningfully contribute to the world. Without mental health we cannot be fully healthy.
Yet, understanding mental health isn't only about being able to identify symptoms and having a name for these conditions. There is a complicated system involving local communities, the federal government, research institutions, private companies and other pieces that are all trying to fit together.
Each piece contributes to our understanding of mental health—if one is missing, the picture isn't complete.
Trying to tell the difference between what expected behaviors are and what might be the signs of a mental health condition isn't always easy. But identifying a problem early can help lead to a better outcome.
A mental illness regularly disrupts a person's thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to others and function, but with early intervention and proper support and treatment, outcomes can be improved.
Legal and civil rights issues, funding for mental health programs, and other topics all affect the ability to receive the best care and treatment for a mental illness.
Research advances our understanding of mental health. It can lead to better treatments, more effective ways of coping and hopefully one day a cure.