The first step in understanding the concept of mental health is to recognize that we all experience different states of 'mental wellness' across our day-to-day lives. Our ability to function varies from one day to the next, impacted by factors such as high stress, negative life events and poor health. Sometimes we carry a predisposition to changes in our brain chemistry that result in a diagnosable medical condition, such as depression. When this occurs, there are additional physical and emotional hurdles to overcome, but through connections to clinical/medical professionals and support from those around us, we can find mental wellbeing.
Understanding the differences between everyday emotions and pervasive thoughts/feelings/actions that lead us to have difficulty functioning each day is one way to keep tabs on our mental health. One resource that provides more details on when support might be needed is the National Center on Mental Health First Aid. Have you ever wondered if you are depressed? A recent blog post, by Rubina Kapil, outlined the difference between feeling sad and having depression. "Sadness is a symptom of depression, but it is not the only one. Depression on the other hand can be debilitating and require additional support. A major depressive disorder lasts for at least two weeks and affects a person’s ability to work, carry out usual daily activities and have satisfying personal relationships." The blog outlines additional symptoms, links to a self-assessment tool, and to Mental Health First Aid training opportunities to learn more about noticing signs, providing support in a non-judgmental way, and sharing appropriate resources and professional help.
Visit mentalhealthfirstaid.org for more information on signs, symptoms and next steps to mental wellness.