During the course of their life most people will visit a doctor for an issue related to their physical health, at least once. Your mental health is no different! Just as you may have a stomach ache or a cold from time to time, you can also suffer from very low moods or feel overly irritable. Our body and mind respond to situations in our lives, both good and bad. So just as you take care of yourself when you have the flu, it is important to take care of your mental health when you don’t feel your best. It is also important to remember that the same way you eat healthy foods, get enough sleep, keep hydrated and exercise in order to keep your immune system strong and prevent physical illness, there are things you can do to take care of your mind as well! However, some people can experience severe mental distress that causes great disruption to their daily life often without any visible cause or stressful situation. In such cases a mental health professional might diagnose an individual with a particular mental illness.
Mental health difficulties: Feelings of mental and emotional distress (e.g. feeling low, anxious, stressed) that are brought on by life situations. These feelings can be quite strong and have a significant effect on your life but can usually be helped through self-help and/or low to medium interventions and are not a diagnosable illness.
Mental illness: Mental illness refers to a diagnosable condition that significantly interferes with an individual’s cognitive, emotional or social abilities e.g. depression, anxiety, schizophrenia. We all suffer from symptoms of mental health difficulties (e.g. low mood, anxiety, insomnia, etc.) from time to time, but having a mental illness means that those symptoms have a chronic and significant impact on a person’s daily life for a longer period of time. (adapted from Mind Your Head)