What is Mental Health?

Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.

Mental health affects all aspects of a child’s development including their cognitive abilities, their social skills as well as their emotional well-being. Many factors contribute to mental health problems including:

  • Biological factors, such as genes or brain chemistry

  • Life experiences, such as trauma or abuse

  • Family history of mental health problems

Mental health problems are common but help is available. People with mental health problems can get better and many recover completely.

With good mental health, children and young people do better in every way. They enjoy their childhoods, are able to deal with stress and difficult times, are able to learn better, do better at school, navigate the online world they grew up in so they benefit from it and enjoy friendships and new experiences.

Childhood and teenage years are when mental health is developed and patterns are set for the future. So a child with good mental health is much more likely to have good mental health as an adult, and to be able to take on adult responsibilities and fulfil their potential.

Early warning signs

Are you not sure if someone you know is living with is suffering from a mental health problem? Or indeed yourself for that matter!! If you notice one or more of the following feelings or behaviours it can be an early warning sign of a problem:

  • Eating or sleeping too much or too little

  • Pulling away from people and usual activities

  • Having low or no energy

  • Feeling numb or like nothing matters

  • Having unexplained aches and pains

  • Feeling helpless or hopeless

  • Smoking, drinking, or using drugs more than usual

  • Feeling unusually confused, forgetful, on edge, angry, upset, worried, or scared

  • Yelling or fighting with family and friends

  • Experiencing severe mood swings that cause problems in relationships

  • Having persistent thoughts and memories you can't get out of your head

  • Hearing voices or believing things that are not true

  • Thinking of harming yourself or others

  • Inability to perform daily tasks like taking care of your kids or getting to work or school