Mental Health & Mental Illness

Mental health is the normal functioning of emotional and intellectual abilities.  Characteristics of a person who is mentally healthy include the abilities to

  • get along with others
  • adapt to change, care for self and others, and give and accept love
  • deal with situations that cause anxiety, disappointment, and frustration
  • take responsibility for decisions, feelings, and actions
  • control and fulfill desires and impulses appropriately

Although it involves the emotions and mental functions, mental illness is a disease.  It is similar to any physical disease.  It produces signs and symptoms and affects the body’s ability to function.  It responds to appropriate treatment and care.  Mental illness disrupts a person’s ability to function at a normal level in the family, home, or community.  It often produces inappropriate behavior.  Some signs and symptoms of mental illness include confusion, disorientation, agitation, and anxiety.

However, signs and symptoms like those of mental illness can occur when mental illness is not present.  A personal crisis, temporary physical changes in the brain, side effects from medications, interactions among medications, and severe change in the environment may cause a situation response.