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Mental health, like physical health, requires our attention, time and energy. In order to be mentally healthy, you must pay attention to the signs of stress, fatigue, and imbalance. Reading about your symptoms can help you figure out what may be going on if you feel something is wrong.
What is mental health? We all know about mental health issues such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, anxiety and other conditions. But what about the actual state of being mentally healthy?
Historically, mental health has been discussed and defined by those in the scientific community as simply being the “absence of disease or illness.” This changed with the birth of the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1948.
At this point, the definition was changed and it stands as follows: "A complete state of physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity." The World Health Organization goes on to explain that the United States actually has the highest number of people with mental health issues of all developed nations.
It further defines mental health this way: "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".
WHO feels that, particularly in economically disadvantaged countries, the lack of funds for integrated mental health services contributes to the problem of mental health. Ideally health services should be available to enhance mental health, instead of only treating mental health problems and disorders. This would mean not only that we are not experiencing mental health disorders, but also that we are well, that we are experiencing a state of well-being.
The Surgeon General's Report on Mental Health "refers to the successful performance of mental function, resulting in productive activities, fulfilling relationships with other people, and the ability to adapt to change and cope with adversity."