Monday, November 14, 2016

Mental Health or Mental Illness:Which One is Correct?

Two people can live very similar lives yet have completely different perceptions of the world around them.  How we perceive our environment is based on our frame of mind.  One person can see a sunny day that makes them feel alive, while another may only see the clouds in the sky and complain about the chilly breeze; same day but two differing views.  How we see the world tells us so much about ourselves.

Do you look for the good in things, or the bad?  Test it out.  Be mindful of the thoughts you are having throughout the day and find out where they are leading you.  If you are feeling pessimistic about your life, then you will likely have a negative outlook on things.  If you are feeling optimistic then you will find the good in things.  By observing our own thinking we have the ability to assess and change it.  If you are constantly seeing the negative in things, it is time to change the way you think!

I will use mental health and mental illness as an example to show you differences in perception.  Mental healthcare workers have been altering the way we look at mental health over the past few years by changing how we refer to it.  We all know terms for mental health disorders from the past, like crazy or insane plus a multitude of other negative connotations, and these are seen as illnesses.  The term 'mental illness' was used for a while but it seemed that there was still too much stigma attached to the word illness, so changes were made again.

The term 'Mental Health' is widely used in regards to mental health disorders around the world.  There is less stigma attached to the word 'health' and I for one certainly appreciate anything that reduces stigma.  We need to look at the differences though so we know exactly what we are referring to, and this is where opposing views come in to play.  An illness is something wrong with us and that requires repairs in order to be healthier, whereas health is something we strive for and build upon.

If my health is poor, then I likely have an illness.  An illness is something that can be diagnosed for the most part, symptoms identified, and steps can be taken to reduce and repair symptoms.  Attacking our mental health from an illness perspective can give us answers to our woes, and provide us with tools to fix the illness, whether it be pills or therapy of some sort.

Mental Health on the other hand is something we can build upon.  We can strengthen our resolve and take steps towards better thinking.  If we work on things like meditation and mindfulness, we can find positive ways to improve our state of mind, and therefore better our mental health.  With an illness we are fixing something that is wrong instead of building on what is right.  Mental health and mental illness are two very different terms, but they are used for the same thing.

Know the difference.  Are you repairing problems or building new strengths?  Both ways will help us to improve our health, but how you view them can control the way you think about them.  I like the term Mental Health because it is solution based, and it gives us the view of something positive that can be improved upon.  Mental illness is a good term as well because it lets us know that there is something wrong and it gives us the opportunity repair it and make it better.

Whether you want to see the issues as health or illness does not matter, all that matters is that you take a positive solution based view of the issue.  How can you make it better?  Look for the sun between the clouds and be happy, rather than lettings the clouds make you consume you and create a negative view.  How we choose to perceive the world around us is so very important.

We take steps to improve our physical health, now it is time to take the same steps with our mental health.  Build on your positive thinking today and grow your health.  Whatever is causing you to feel ill will be lessened the more often you take a positive view of it.  Be positive but be realistic as well. Build a little each day by searching for the good in things, and in a week or two, you will start to see a difference.  The sun will shine brighter and the darkness won't be so scary anymore.

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