Mental Wellness

Mental wellness is a positive state of mental health. Being mentally well means that your mind is in order and functioning in your best interest. You are able to think, feel and act in ways that create a positive impact on your physical and social well-being. Long periods of low mental wellness can lead to the development of diagnosable mental health conditions.

What is Mental Health?

Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood. Mental and physical health are equally important components of overall health.  For example, depression increases the risk for many types of physical health problems, particularly long-lasting conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. Similarly, the presence of chronic conditions can increase the risk for mental illness.

From the DSM-5

What causes Mental Illness?

There is no single cause for mental illness. A number of factors can contribute to risk for mental illness.

Risk Factors

    • Early adverse life experiences, such as trauma or a history of abuse (for example, child abuse, sexual assault, witnessing violence, etc.)
    • Experiences related to other ongoing (chronic) medical conditions, such as cancer or diabetes
    • Biological factors or chemical imbalances in the brain
    • Use of alcohol or drugs
    • Having feelings of loneliness or isolation

    Know the Facts

    Research shows that meditation offers not only calm, but also helps with anxiety and depression, cancer, chronic pain, asthma, heart disease and high blood pressure. Research points to the benefits of social connection:

    • Increased happiness. In one compelling study, a key difference between very happy people and less happy people was good relationships
    • Better health. Loneliness was associated with a higher risk of high blood pressure in a recent study of older people.
    • A longer life. People with strong social and community ties were two or three times less likely to die during a 9-year study.

    Studies show that

    • Laughing decreases pain, may help your heart and lungs, promotes muscle relaxation, and can reduce anxiety.
    • Positive emotions can decrease stress hormones and build emotional strength.
    • Leisure activities offer a distraction from problems, a sense of competence and many other benefits. For example, in one study observing twins, the one who participated in leisure activities was less likely to develop Alzheimer's disease or dementia than their fellow twin.

    Taking Care of your Mental Health

    Self-care means taking the time to do things that help you live well and improve both your physical health and mental health. When it comes to your mental health, self-care can help you manage stress, lower your risk of illness, and increase your energy. Even small acts of self-care in your daily life can have a big impact.

    Here are some tips to help you get started with self-care:

    Self-care looks different for everyone, and it is important to find what you need and enjoy. It may take trial and error to discover what works best for you. In addition, although self-care is not a cure for mental illnesses, understanding what causes or triggers your mild symptoms and what coping techniques work for you can help manage your mental health.

    • Get regular exercise. Just 30 minutes of walking every day can help boost your mood and improve your health. Small amounts of exercise add up, so don’t be discouraged if you can’t do 30 minutes at one time.
    • Eat healthy, regular meals and stay hydrated. A balanced diet and plenty of water can improve your energy and focus throughout the day. Also, limit caffeinated beverages such as soft drinks or coffee.
    • Make sleep a priority. Stick to a schedule, and make sure you’re getting enough sleep. Blue light from devices and screens can make it harder to fall asleep, so reduce blue light exposure from your phone or computer before bedtime.
    • Try a relaxing activity. Explore relaxation or wellness programs or apps, which may incorporate meditation, muscle relaxation, or breathing exercises. Schedule regular times for these and other healthy activities you enjoy such as journaling.
    • Set goals and priorities. Decide what must get done now and what can wait. Learn to say “no” to new tasks if you start to feel like you’re taking on too much. Try to be mindful of what you have accomplished at the end of the day, not what you have been unable to do.
    • Practice gratitude. Remind yourself daily of things you are grateful for. Be specific. Write them down at night, or replay them in your mind.
    • Focus on positivity. Identify and challenge your negative and unhelpful thoughts.
    • Stay connected. Reach out to your friends or family members who can provide emotional support and practical help.

    When to Seek Professional Help

    Self-care looks different for everyone, and it is important to find what you need and enjoy. It may take trial and error to discover what works best for you. In addition, although self-care is not a cure for mental illnesses, understanding what causes or triggers your mild symptoms and what coping techniques work for you can help manage your mental health.

    From the NIMH
    • Difficulty sleeping
    • Appetite changes that result in unwanted weight changes
    • Struggling to get out of bed in the morning because of mood
    • Difficulty concentrating
    • Loss of interest in things you usually find enjoyable
    • Inability to perform usual daily functions and responsibilities

    Mental Health FAQs

    Below you'll find answers to common questions asked about mental health.

    What is Mental Health treatment? 

    Mental Health treatment is on a continuum of care that can range from individual therapy to residential treatment.

    • The continuum of care includes inpatient hospitalization, residential treatment, partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient therapy, after care groups, support groups, group therapy, individual therapy, couples therapy, family therapy.  
    • If you or someone you love is interested or does not know where to start contact Beacon of Light and we can help get you on the path to wellness. 

    What are the different types of Mental Health professionals and what do they do? 

    • Psychiatrists – The American Psychiatric Association states that a psychiatrist is a medical doctor (an M.D. or D.O.) who specializes in mental health, including substance use disorders. Psychiatrists are qualified to assess both the mental and physical aspects of psychological problems and prescribe medications. 
    • Psychologists – The American Psychology Association states that psychologists with doctoral degrees have either a PhD, PsyD, or EdD and have the professional training and clinical skills to help people learn to cope more effectively with life issues and mental health problems. They are licensed by their states to provide a number of services, including evaluations and psychotherapy. 
    • Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) – The American Counseling Association states that an LPC is a counselor with a master’s degree in counseling. Professional counselors help clients identify goals and potential solutions to problems which cause emotional turmoil; seek to improve communication and coping skills; strengthen self-esteem; and promote behavior change and optimal mental health. An LPC Associate, previously termed LPC Intern, must operate under the supervision of an LPC Supervisor to provide clinical therapy or mental health services.
    • Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) – The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy states that marriage and family therapists treat a wide range of serious clinical problems including depression, marital problems, anxiety, individual psychological problems, and child-parent problems. Typically, marriage and family therapy is brief, solution focused and specific with attainable goals. An LMFT Associate must operate under the supervision of an LMFT Supervisor to provide clinical therapy or mental health services.
    • Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) – The National Association of Social Workers states that social workers promote well-being through by assessment, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of mental illness, substance use, and other addictions. A Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW, without the Clinical designation) must operate under the supervision of a licensed psychologist, psychiatrist, or LCSW to provide clinical therapy or mental health services. 
    • Registered Play Therapist (RPT) – The Association for Play Therapy states that a registered play therapist is a mental health professional with training and experience working with children and families through the use of play therapy. An RPT has met specific criteria and is registered through the Association for Play Therapy.

    Can people recover from Mental Illness? Is there a cure? 

    There is not a “cure” for mental illness, however people can and do recover from mental illness and return to a typical, healthy life. People with mental illness will always have to manage their mental health, much like someone with high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes. 

    How does someone access Mental Health treatment? 

    Most mental health and medical professionals as well as hospitals can assess someone for mental health treatment. 

    What does dual diagnosis mean or co-occurring illness mean? 

    Dual diagnosis means more than one diagnosis. For example, when someone has depression and an addiction like alcoholism, providers will call this a dual diagnosis.  

    Co-occurring illness means there are more than one type of illness, such as a psychical illness and a mental illness. For example, when someone has depression and heart disease, providers will call these co-occurring illnesses. 

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