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Mental Health

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Mental wellness is not just the absence of a diagnosable mental illness.

Having good mental health helps us cope with the daily stresses of life in a healthy way, allows us to maintain positive relationships, engage in healthy activities, and enjoy life. We can maintain good mental health by:

  • staying socially active
  • eating nutritious foods
  • exercising regularly
  • getting enough sleep
  • avoiding alcohol and drug abuse

While many people experience feelings of anxiety and sadness or great stress at some time in their lives, it does not mean that they have a mental illness. A mental illness is a health condition that changes how a person thinks, feels, or acts (or all three) and causes the person distress and difficulty in functioning.

Each mental illness has its own characteristic symptoms. However, there are some general warning signs that might alert you that someone needs professional help. Some of these signs include:

  • marked personality change
  • inability to cope with problems and daily activities
  • strange or grandiose ideas
  • excessive anxieties
  • prolonged depression and apathy
  • marked changes in eating or sleeping patterns
  • extreme mood swings
  • excessive anger, hostility, or violent behavior
  • abuse of alcohol or drugs 
  • thinking or talking about suicide or harming oneself

Sources: National Institute of Mental Health, and Mental Health: A Report of the Surgeon General

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