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Mental Health vs Mental Illness

They are not the same

By Blue ChamomilePublished about a year ago 3 min read
Mental Health vs Mental Illness
Photo by Jared Rice on Unsplash

Mental health and mental illness are always used interchangeably, but the fact is they are not the same. People with poor mental health do not always have a mental illness, and people who have a mental illness do not necessarily have poor mental health. Confusing enough, let’s dissect and explore them in the following paragraph.

Mental Health

Health in general can be divided into physical health and mental health. From the previous statement, we can say that mental health is a part of general well-being, apart from physical health. When we discuss mental health, we are discussing the state of mind be it emotionally, psychologically, or socially. We get physical threats all the time when we have headaches, a runny nose, and or a loss of appetite. Similarly, psychological and emotional threats affect our mental health. Our body is accustomed to reacting in a certain way, hence the reason why we react as so when we are sad, anxious, angry, and worried. These are however normal responses but if excessive, especially when it affects our quality of life persistently, we are said to have poor mental health.

Mental Illness

Mental illness is a diagnosed condition. Being said, it can only be diagnosed by a professional. Be it trained general practitioners, psychiatrists, or psychologists. Usually, mental illness is a product of poor mental health that is being ignored. Examples of mental illness are depression, anxiety, and psychosis. These conditions can have a significant impact on an individual's ability to function in daily life. Mental illness can be caused by a range of factors, including genetics, life experiences, and environmental factors.

Mental Health and Mental Illness Continuum

When putting it all together, Mental Health and Mental Illness exist on a continuum. Imagine a straight line. At one end, we have mental health, on the other end there is mental illness. Our state of mind moves forward and backward depending on the threats that we receive. On some days, we feel calm, happy, and contented, on other days we feel sad, angry, and embarrassed. But when things get out of control for example due to accumulated and unresolved stress, we may reach the end of the extreme, that is where mental illness develops. Some of us are more prone to reach the other end easier than others. This idea was coined by Dr. John Travis in 1972. Dr. John Travis, an American physician proposed that this model suggests that there is no absolute state of health, but rather a range of health states that individuals may experience at any given time. Take, for example, a patient diagnosed with depression who can move back and forth the continuum with waxing and waning symptoms and mental wellness. A patient who is compliant with his treatment will achieve remission and good mental health in one period. Yet if he defaults, his symptoms might reappear and affect his well-being. In other words, mental health and mental illness do not work like an on-off switch, but more of a tuning knob on the radio.

P.s. Hey readers, thank you so much for reading till the end. This is my first post on vocal and English is not my first language. Please excuse the grammatical error if there is, I try not to AI generate my content to be a better writer. I am so excited to have it published as I too have some self limiting belief about being a writer. My passion is on mental health and through this medium (no pun intended), I hope that we can decipher issues around mental health together

Comment below, do you have bad experience yourself on mental health issues, or do your family and friends suffer from mental health issues, let’s discuss.

healthwellnessmental health

About the Creator

Blue Chamomile

Mental Health | Decluttering | Emotional wellness

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Reader insights

Nice work

Very well written. Keep up the good work!

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  1. Eye opening

    Niche topic & fresh perspectives

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    Blue ChamomileWritten by Blue Chamomile

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