What is mental health?
Good mental health is a sense of wellbeing, confidence and self-esteem. It enables us to fully enjoy and appreciate other people, day-to-day life and our environment. When we are mentally healthy we can:
- form positive relationships
- use our abilities to reach our potential
- deal with life’s challenges
How can we improve our mental health?
A few tips for positive mental health are:
- talk about or express your feelings
- exercise regularly
- eat healthy meals
- get enough sleep
- spend time with friends and loved ones
- develop new skills
- relax and enjoy your hobbies
- set realistic goals
- talk to your GP or a health professional
See also Getting help
What is mental illness?
A mental illness is a health problem that significantly affects how a person thinks, behaves and interacts with other people. It is diagnosed according to standardised criteria.
One in 5 Australians will suffer from a mental illness at some point in their lives.
A mental health problem also affects how a person thinks, feels, and behaves, but to a lesser extent than a mental illness.
Mental illnesses are of different types and degrees of severity. Some of the major types are:
- bipolar mood disorder
- personality disorders
- eating disorders
These illnesses may also be referred to as a mental disorder, mental impairment or psychiatric disability.
What causes mental illness?
Mental illness results from complex interactions between the mind, body and environment. Factors which can contribute to mental illness are:
- long-term and acute stress
- biological factors such as genetics, chemistry and hormones
- use of alcohol, drugs and other substances
- cognitive patterns such as constant negative thoughts and low self esteem
- social factors such as isolation, financial problems, family breakdown or violence
These factors can be minimised by a strong and supportive community environment.