Mental Health vs. Mental Illness: Understanding the Difference
Did you know? People often use mental health and mental illness interchangeably, but they define a separate set of conditions.
Let’s dive into the contrast and explore practical ways to support your mental health and overall well-being.
Understanding Mental Health and Mental Illness:
Mental health refers to a person’s cognitive, emotional, and social well-being. When mentally healthy, you can build meaningful relationships with others, tackle challenges, and make decisions aligned with your long-term goals and values. In contrast, a mental illness is a diagnosable condition affecting thoughts, emotions, moods, or behaviours, such as depression, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia.
When we are unhappy in our job, relationships, or other areas of life, our mental health suffers, but we may not have a mental illness. Whereas someone with a chronic mental illness, like OCD, who is consistent with treatment, satisfied with their career, and has significant social support may have a high degree of mental illness, yet a high level of mental health.
Tips to Support Your Mental Health:
Just as physical health fluctuates, so does mental health. Finding effective coping mechanisms may involve some trial and error. However, a helpful first place to start might include:
- Engaging in meaningful activities like volunteering, art, or sports.
- Spending quality time with friends and loved ones.
- Journaling to express your thoughts and emotions.
- Practicing meditation and deep breathing exercises.
- Listening to music to improve your mood.
- Maintaining physically active, whether by stretching, walking, or exercising.
Experimenting with various coping methods is normal and all part of the process to uncover what works best for you.
Other Ways to Support Your Mental Health:
In addition to the coping strategies, consider these approaches to bolster your mental well-being:
- Take regular breaks and find moments to unwind, preventing burnout.
- Maintain good physical health through nutrition, exercise, and proper sleep.
- Spend time in nature. Even a brief walk outside can enhance your well-being.
- Identify your support system, whether it’s family, friends, pets, or your community, and reach out to them when needed.
If you’re experiencing symptoms that affect your day-to-day routine, such as difficulty concentrating, appetite changes, or irregular sleeping patterns, we suggest reaching out to a primary care provider. Depending on your unique circumstance, healthcare professionals can assess your mental health, provide referrals to specialists, and recommend treatment options like therapy or medication. Taking action before symptoms intensify may not always be realistic; however, it is recommended.
The LOFT Approach:
LOFT takes a holistic approach to address mental health and mental illness comprehensively.
As a dedicated mental health service provider, we work alongside community agencies, hospitals, and long-term care homes to offer expertise and support in addressing mental health, dementia, addictions, and other cognitive and behavioural challenges. Our mission is to ensure that individuals have access to the care they need, when and where they need it most. We work closely with each client to develop a treatment plan that aligns with their unique needs, meeting them where they are at.
Our unique care model targets each person’s physical, cognitive, emotional, and social needs. We aim to help our clients achieve optimal health and well-being while connecting them with a supportive community.
By understanding the distinction between mental health and mental illness and employing these strategies, you can take significant steps toward a healthier, happier life. Prioritizing your well-being is a life-long journey, and there is always time to start.