It's Okay to Talk About Mental Illness!
To Demystify Mental Health We Must Define It
There are a lot of myths about mental illness. Due to stigma, or negative attitudes about a group, and lack of understanding of what mental illness is, both students and educators are being left in the dark. This lack of clarity can lead students to feel isolated, misunderstood and even destructive.
In order to say it’s OK to talk about mental illness we must first remind ourselves that mental illness can affect anyone, is not the result of character, personal defects, or poor upbringing and are treatable. When we can accurately point out, name and define mental illness we can have a common vocabulary to talk about it. By defining we demystify.
Mental health is more than the absence of mental illness
Mental health is “a state of well-being in which we are able to develop our unique potential, cope with the stressors of life, work productively and fruitfully, build strong and positive relationships with others, and make a contribution to our community.”
(Adapted from: World Health Organization (2005). Promoting mental health: Concepts, emerging evidence, practice.)
There is no health without mental health
Mental health is a key element of a person’s overall well-being. The relationship between physical and mental health (and the social, biological, environmental and psychological determinants of health) is complex and not completely understood.
• Physical illnesses and mental illnesses often occur together (e.g., depression and heart disease).
• The state of a person’s mental health can influence the onset or course of a physical or mental illness. Similarly, the state of a person’s physical health can influence their mental health.
(Source: World Health Organization (2005). Promoting mental health: Concepts, emerging evidence, practice.)
Talk Openly About Mental Health
Good mental health and well-being is key to living a full, healthy and happy life. It enables us to make choices, solve problems, deal with challenges and feel connected with the people and places around us. But life isn’t always simple and straightforward, our mind, just like our body, is vulnerable to becoming unwell. Mental health and well-being problems, just like physical health problems, can be brief and quick to recover from (like a cold or feeling down and stressed) or more chronic and something we learn to manage day to day (like diabetes or depression). There are many things we can do to stay well and stay in control. Improving mental health promotion and prevention will require a better balance between reactive and anticipatory care.