define mental Illness Psychology
Many people think there is an obvious difference between mental illness and psychological health but very often the differences are misunderstood. Mental Illness refers to alterations in thinking, emotions or behaviors that create distress and impaired functioning for the individual. Mental illness is often a result of biological changes in the brain.
Psychological health is determined by more than just the absence of mental illness. If a person is not depressed, does not have hallucinations or delusions they are probably not mentally ill, but that does not mean they are necessarily psychologically healthy. Psychological health is having the ability to think, express and behave appropriately in relation to our emotions.
Knowing the difference is important because although you may think your distress is a result of a mental illness, it may just be a problem with your psychological health. Many alcoholics and addicts abuse substances to alleviate the discomfort of various emotions. For instance, if we are shy or have low self esteem we might drink a lot more in a social setting in order to feel comfortable but this is not a mental illness. Dually diagnosed individuals typically have one or more diagnosed mental illnesses and an addiction to substances.
Mental Illness in America
Mental illnesses are quite common. An estimated 30.8 million American adults, or 14.8% of the adult population experience at least one diagnosable mental illness as defined by the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Mental illness requires intervention of trained clinicians who can prescribe medications and recommend other treatment and therapies.
Advantages of Being Psychologically Healthy
When we are psychologically healthy we are able to express our emotions appropriately; for example, saying that we are angry rather than acting aggressively, expressing disagreement without insulting people, and then withholding emotions if the situation warrants are examples of psychological health.
When we are psychologically healthy we feel better both emotionally and physically and interact better with those around us. When we can manage our emotions effectively our relationships improve, we manage and resolve conflict better and this gives us the social support we need to get through life’s ups and downs.
Self Esteem, Psychological Health & Addiction
Low self esteem can seriously impair our psychological health. Low self esteem is characterized by a lack of trust in our own opinions, letting others make important decisions, following and conforming to others, lacking self-confidence and self assurance, and believing we are not worthy of being treated respectfully. People who have low self esteem tend to abuse alcohol and drugs more than those with healthy self esteems. Low self esteem is usually developed over many years and although difficult to improve, it can be done.
The first step toward improving self esteem is to quit drinking or using drugs. When drinking and using most of us do not hold ourselves in high regard and are constantly focused on our addiction. Life failures in work, school and family as a result of addiction lower self worth and self esteem. People in recovery often under go huge improvements in self esteem once they get sober.
Improving self esteem is an ongoing process. Focusing on our talents, positive characteristics and accomplishments will continue to develop our strong points for improved self esteem. Getting active in Alcoholics Anonymous, sharing in meetings, and reaching out to the new comer are all activities that will positively enhance and build our self esteem. Good self esteem is an attribute of the Psychologically Healthy individual.