Understanding Mental Illness

Mental Health

Mental health is a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.  

- World Health Organisation  

Mental health is:

  • A positive sense of well-being
  • A belief in one’s own worth and the dignity and the worth of others
  • Ability to deal with the inner world of thinking, feeling, managing life and taking risks
  • Ability to initiate, develop and sustain mutually satisfying personal relationships.

Mental Illness

It is a health condition characterized by alterations in thinking, mood or behaviour (or some combination thereof) associated with distress and or impaired functioning.  

- Canadian Mental Health Association  

Mental illness refers collectively to all mental disorders. It is

  • Biological – linked to disturbances in the brain chemistry
  • Psychological – affects thoughts and emotions
  • Social – affects stress levels and life events

Mental illness is like any other illness - it can manifest itself in many forms. It is commonly misunderstood and it can be treated.