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 healthy choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.

Although the terms are often used interchangeably, poor mental health and mental illness are not the same. A person can experience poor mental health and not be diagnosed with a mental illness. Likewise, a person diagnosed with a mental illness can experience periods of physical, mental, and social well-being.

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.2

It is important to remember that a person’s mental health can change over time, depending on many factors.  When the demands placed on a person exceed their resources and coping abilities, their mental health could be impacted. For example, if someone is working long hours, caring for a relative, or experiencing economic hardship, they may experience poor mental health.

How common are mental illnesses?

Mental illnesses are among the most common health conditions in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control, there are more than 200 diagnosed mental illnesses and disorders.

More than 50 percent will be diagnosed with a mental illness or disorder at some point in their lifetime. Additionally, one in five Americans will experience a mental illness in a given year.; and one in 25 Americans lives with a serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depression.6

Children are not immune to mental illness. In fact, one in five children, either currently or at some point during their life, have had a seriously debilitating mental illness.

To be sure, those numbers indicate that those who suffer from mental health issues are not alone. There should be no stigma, shame, or fear in getting help and treatment.

Are You in Crisis?

In the New Orleans area, the Metropolitan Human Services District (MHSD) is one of ten entities across the state that serves people with mental health disorders, addictive disorders, and intellectual/developmental disabilities in Louisiana. Specifically, MHSD’s service area includes Orleans, Plaquemines, and St. Bernard parishes.

If you or someone you know is in mental health, addiction, or intellectual/developmental disability crisis, please call the Metro Crisis Response Team at (504) 826-2675. 

Content source: National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Division of Population Health