Mental health articles

OF mental health care and mentally ill

What is the difference between mental health and mental illness?

There is more to good health than just a physically healthy body: a healthy person should also have a healthy mind. A person with a healthy mind should be able to think clearly, should be able to solve the various problems faced in life, should enjoy good relations with friends, colleagues at work and family, and should feel spiritually at ease and bring happiness to others in the community. It is these aspects of health that can be considered as mental health.

Even though we talk about the mind and body as if they were separate, in reality they are like two sides of the same coin. They share a great deal with each other, but present a different face to the world around us. If one of the two is affected in any way, then the other will almost certainly also be affected. Just because we think about the mind and body separately, it does not mean that they are independent of each other.

Just as the physical body can fall ill, so too can the mind. This can be called mental illness.Mental illness is “any illness experienced by a person which affects their emotions, thoughts or behaviour, which is out of keeping with their cultural beliefs and personality, and is producing a negative effect on their lives or the lives of their families”.

There are two important points that form the basis of the material in this manual:

• There have been tremendous advances in our understanding of the causes and treatment of mental illnesses. Most of these treatments can be provided effectively by a general or community health worker.

• Mental illness includes a broad range of health problems. For most people, mental illness isthought of as an illness associated with severe behavioural disturbances such as violence,agitation and being sexually inappropriate. Such disturbances are usually associated with severe mental disorders. However, the vast majority of those with a mental illness behave and look no different from anyone else. These common mental health problems include depression, anxiety,sexual problems and addiction.

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