• Janelle Chioma

What is the Difference Between Mental Health and Illness

Updated: Aug 5



Have you ever thought that Mental Health and Illness are one in the same thing? If so that is completely okay because a lot of people do. But the reality is it is not. They are two separate things. So you are probably wondering what is the difference and why does it even matter. Well, the first thing is we all have mental health, just like we all have psychical health. The best way to describe mental health is that just like how we can have health physical health and unhealthy physical health the same thing is true for mental health. Mental Health is really a spectrum and different life changes or things can trigger where you fall on that spectrum. For example, getting a job or promotion you really wanted can create positive mental health because you start seeing yourself in a better light. Versus losing a job or not getting a job offer which can lead to the opposite end of the mental health spectrum of low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, you name it.


Mental illness or disorder on the other hand is when our Mental health is not doing so create and can lead to dysfunction in our day-to-day life. Some Mental illnesses are caused by a chemical imbalance and some are caused by life events such as Trauma, loss, or change.


Mental Health Re-defined


Here are a few things that we look at when looking at our mental health


1. We all have Mental Health


Our mental health is a continuous spectrum that can shift from good, bad, and just in between depending on what's happening in our lives. For example, if we get a promotion and we are maintaining healthy relationships, that making us have positive feelings, emotions and outlook on life then we have good mental health. On another hand, if we lost our job or have low self-worth which is causing unpleasant feeling this can start to signify poor mental health.


2. We can foster healthy habits to develop good Mental Health


Healthy Habits to foster positive Mental Health can start with self-care, building routines in your life that ensure you are making time to take care of yourself. It can also be connecting with people if you are an extrovert or simply staying in to watch a movie on nextflix for introvert. It can also be reframing your thinking using positive affirmations.


3. It is Mental Well-being


Well-being is important because having Mental wellness and well-being can improve your quality of life.


4. Its connect to our thought, emotions, and feelings


Mental Health relates to how we think and see the world, what thoughts we are allowing in our heads. The emotion and feelings that are occuring when something good or bad happens.


5.Our ability to problem-solve


If you think about Mental health as tied to our thoughts, emotions and feelings that it is clear that good mental health can help us solve a problem effectively because we start to navigate our thoughts and feeling use them to effectively solve a problem. But when we have poor mental health this might get a bit cloudy


"When we talk about Mental Health, we're talking about our mental well-being: our emotions, our thoughts and feelings, our ability to solve problems and overcome difficulties, and our understanding of the world around us. ”

Mental Illness


The best way to remember what mental illness is is to examine the 4 D's of mental illness. As a physical illness is typically disruptive to your day to day life so is mental illness


Dysfunction - Interrupts your day-to-day function. For example, someone suffering from clinical depression might not want to get out of bed or shower. And someone who might have an anxiety disorder might have unrealistic worries and fears that prohibit them from doing things they might enjoy.


Deviance - FInd behaviour to be odd or unusually


Distress - can be closely related to Dysfunction but is not the same thing.


Danger - This consists of two components Danger to self or Danger to others.


”Mental Illness affects the way people think, feel, behave, or interact with others. They cause Dysfuncation, Deviance, Distress, and Danger

Why is this all-important to understand because it gives us a framework to reclaim our mental health especially as Black, Indegiouns and People of Color. It helps us to name it and know the roles and function it plays in our lives and how we can grow and move towards optimal MENTAL WELL-BEING

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