Mental health vs. Mental illness

By: Grace Blumer-Lamotte

I asked a freshman, a sophomore, and a junior what is the difference between mental health and mental illness.

The freshman said mental health is taking care of all 3 areas of your health, physical, mental, and emotional health. They said they weren’t quite sure what mental illness was.

The sophomore said that mental health is your emotional state, and how you feel at that specific time. They said mental illness is different from mental health because it is a problem that may need therapy or medication.

The junior said mental health is you being able to control everything that is going on in your head. It is focusing on yourself internally. They said that mental illness is ADHD, ADD, and more that they’re not aware of. 

What is the actual difference between mental health and mental illness? According to ‘Heretohelp,’ mental health is “Our emotions, our thoughts and feelings, our ability to solve problems and overcome difficulties, our social connections, and our understanding of the world around us.”  Mental health is allegedly just how you are feeling in the given moment. Ways to maintain a healthy mental health are to: exercise regularly, stay positive, get 8-12 hours of sleep, stay connected with others, and eat a balanced diet.

Also according to ‘Heretohelp,’ a mental illness is an “Illness that affects that way people think, feel, behave, or interact with others.” There are many types of mental illnesses such as depression, ADHD, bipolar disorder, plus many more. Mental illnesses usually need a lot more attention, and they need a diagnosis from a medical professional. The people who struggle with a mental illness may go and see a therapist and get prescribed medication. Ways to cope with a mental illness are to: educate yourself about it, stay connected with friends and family, and seek support from a health provider.

As you can see, the students didn’t quite know what the difference between mental health and mental illnesses were. When I was done interviewing them, I asked them to educate themselves and others about the difference. They did so.

Now, after reading this, do you think you know the difference between your mental health and a mental illness?

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