In support of Mental Health Awareness Month, during the month of May I’ll be sharing about the core components of mental healthiness as well as the most common conditions relating to mental illness. Based on how common these experiences are, each one of us will inevitably come across a time in our lives when either directly or through a close relationship, mental illness will affect us. I hope that in talking about both health and dysfunction simultaneously, you’ll gain some useful and practical insights in better understanding the whole range of mental health – from at our worst to at our best.

Just like with our physical health, our mental health is influenced by a combination of genetics, behavior, and experience. And similarly, as with our bodies, there’s many ways in which we can positively influence our health, and just as many ways in which we can be hurt emotionally and psychologically. Sometimes these negative experiences are within the normal range of our shared human experience – such as grief, misery, anger, and stress. Sometimes these negative experiences are signs of dysfunction within our minds – such as in clinical depression, the effects of trauma, or toxicity from drugs or alcohol. The cause of these dysfunctions vary – from biological factors, to environmental influences, as well as through our mindsets and the mindset of those around us.

Though it is true that our genetics can influence whether or not we have stronger predispositions towards various conditions such as anxiety, mood disorders, schizophrenia or addictions, it is also true that the experiences of our individual lives have greater influence over our ability to experience life satisfaction and to have a life full of meaning – regardless of our genes or even if we are already suffering from illness. When we apply the same principles of mental healthiness (personal growth, mindfulness, relationships, authenticity) during times of mental illness, we see that these behaviors and experiences can help our minds recover and heal – more quickly, more authentically, more resiliently, restoring us back towards wellness. So over the next few weeks, we’ll be talking about these principles and practices in more detail in the context of the most common conditions – Depression, Bipolar Illness, Anxiety Disorders, Schizophrenia, ADHD, and Substance Use Disorders.

In the next entry, we’ll talk about the normal human experiences of misery, sadness, and grief and how they differ from when a person is suffering from a clinical Depression. We’ll also talk about the range of successful options to help a person get back towards the path of healthiness.

Mental Health Month Links:

Mental Health Month Infographic

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