PSYCHOLOGY: Mental Health Week.. Understanding Mental Health

PSYCHOLOGY: Mental Health Week.. Understanding Mental Health

“Good mental health is more than the absence of a mental health problem.”

Western Australian Association for Mental HealthMental Health Week. World Mental Health Day is marked every year on the same date: 10th of October. In 2017,Mental Health Week will run from Sunday 8th to Saturday 14th October.

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Image: Mental Health Week – Western Australian Association for Mental Health

Mental Health Awareness Week

World Mental Health Day is marked every year on the same date: 10th of October.

Mental Health Week aims to activate, educate and engage patients about mental health, through a week of interactive events.

Mental Illness Awareness Week was established in 1990 by the U.S. Congress in recognition of efforts by the National Alliance on Mental Illness to educate and increase awareness about mental illness.

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Image: NT Mental Health Coalition

The University of Adelaide: 

Be the Champion of Your Mental Health – Find Your Team!

Mental Health Awareness Week in 2017 is all about how you can be the champion of your own mental health by ensuring you know what information, services, and supports are available to you to help . In other words, it’s time to find your team!

Your team includes all of your friends and family, as well as your fellow students, but it may also involve your GP, University Counselling Support, online resources and information, a psychologist, or other professional support services – it’s all about knowing who to turn to for help, when, and what supports are available to you here at the University, and also more generally in your own community.

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services/


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.

Over the course of your life, if you experience mental health problems, your thinking, mood, and behavior could be affected. 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.

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Image: SlideShare

Early Warning Signs

Not sure if you or someone you know is living with mental health problems? Experiencing one or more of the following feelings or behaviors 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

Mental Health and Wellness

Positive mental health allows people to:

  • Realize their full potential
  • Cope with the stresses of life
  • Work productively
  • Make meaningful contributions to their communities

Ways to maintain positive mental health include:

  • Getting professional help if you need it
  • Connecting with others
  • Staying positive
  • Getting physically active
  • Helping others
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Developing coping skills

Learn More About Mental Health




Published on May 9, 2017

Dealing with anxiety is tough enough, but what’s even worse is when people don’t understand it. Many who have never experienced or aren’t familiar with anyone who goes through anxiety have a lot of misconceptions about it and the things people do because of it. It makes coping with anxiety much harder. In this video we will talk about 13 things people don’t realize you do because of your anxiety. Generally speaking, people with anxiety do certain things to overcome their anxiety. The feeling my last for a short time, but it is needed. The problem is, a lot of individuals misinterpret what they are doing.



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Image: WAAMH Most of us will experience a mental health problem at some time in our lives.

It is a condition which causes serious disorder in a person’s behaviour or thinking.

mental illness is a health problem that significantly affects how a person feels, thinks, behaves, and interacts with other people. It is diagnosed according to standardised criteria. The term mental disorder is also used to refer to these health problems.

mental health problem also interferes with how a person thinks, feels, and behaves, but to a lesser extent than a mental illness.

Mental health problems are more common and include the mental ill health that can be experienced temporarily as a reaction to the stresses of life.

Mental health problems are less severe than mental illnesses, but may develop into a mental illness if they are not effectively dealt with.

Mental illnesses cause a great deal of suffering to those experiencing them,as well as their families and friends. Furthermore, these problems appear to be increasing. According to the World Health Organization, depression will be one of the biggest health problems worldwide by the year 2020.


Mental illnesses are of different types and degrees of severity. Some of the major types are depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, bipolar mood disorder,personality disorders, and eating disorders.

1) Depression:  Is a mood disorder. It is a mental health disorder characterised by persistently depressed mood or loss of interest in activities, causing significant impairment in daily life. ( Mayo clinic)

The most common mental illnesses are anxiety and depressive disorders. While everyone experiences strong feelings of tension, fear, or sadness at times, a mental illness is present when these feelings become so disturbing and overwhelming that people have great difficulty coping with day-to-day activities, such as work, enjoying leisure time, and maintaining relationships.

2.) Anxiety Disorder:  Its a mental health disorder characterised by feelings of worry, anxiety or fear that are strong enough to interfere with one’s daily activities. (Mayo clinic)

At their most extreme, people with a depressive disorder may not be able to get out of bed or care for themselves physically. People with certain types of anxiety disorder may not be able to leave the house, or may have compulsive rituals to help them alleviate their fears.

3.) Schipzophrenia: It is a psychotic disorder. It is an illness that disrupts the functioning of the human mind. It causes intense episodes of psychosis involving delusions and hallucinations, and longer periods of reduced expression, motivation and functioning. It is treatable. (

Less common are mental illnesses that may involve psychosis. These include schizophrenia and bipolar mood disorder. People experiencing an acute episode of psychosis lose touch with reality and perceive their world differently from normal. Their ability to make sense of thoughts, feelings, and the world around them is seriously affected.

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Image: Pinterest

4.) Bipolar mood disorder:  Previously known as manic depression, is a mental disorder that causes periods of depression and periods of elevated mood. The elevated mood is significant and is known as mania or hypomania, depending on its severity, or whether symptoms of psychosis are present. (Mayo Clinic)

A psychotic episode may involve delusions, such as false beliefs of persecution, guilt, or grandeur. It may involve hallucinations, where the person sees, hears, smells, or tastes things that are not there.

Psychotic episodes can be threatening and confusing to other people. Such behaviour is difficult to understand for people who are not familiar with it.

5.) Personality disorder: It is a type of mental disorder in which you have a rigid and unhealthy pattern of thinking, functioning and behaving. A person with a personality disorder has trouble perceiving and relating to situations and people. … Personality disorders usually begin in the teenage years or early adulthood. (Mayo clinic)

6.) Eating disorder:  It is known as Bulimia and Anorexia Nervosa. It is a mental disorder defined by abnormal eating habits that negatively affect a person’s physical or mental health. (wikipedia)

7.) Post Traumatic Stress Disorder: A disorder characterised by failure to recover after experiencing or witnessing a terrifying event. The condition may last months or years, with triggers that can bring back memories of the trauma accompanied by intense emotional and physical reactions. Symptoms may include nightmares or flashbacks, avoidance of situations that bring back the trauma, heightened reactivity to stimuli, anxiety or depressed mood.Treatment includes different types of psychotherapy as well as medications to manage symptoms. Treatable by a medical professional. Medium-term: resolves within months. (Mayo clinic)



Most mental illnesses can be effectively treated. Recognising the early signs and symptoms of mental illness and accessing effective treatment early is important. The earlier treatment starts, the better the outcome.

Episodes of mental illness can come and go during different periods in people’s lives. Some people experience only one episode of illness and fully recover. For others, it recurs throughout their lives.

Effective treatments can include medication, cognitive and behavioural psychological therapies, psycho-social support, psychiatric disability rehabilitation,avoidance of risk factors such as harmful alcohol and other drug use, and learning self-management skills.

It is rarely possible for someone with a mental illness to make the symptoms go away just by strength of will. To suggest this is not helpful in any way.

People with a mental illness need the same understanding and support given to people with a physical illness. A mental illness is no different-it is not an illness for which anyone should be blamed.

People with mental illness may be at risk of harmful alcohol and other drug use. This makes treatment more complex, so that effectively managing alcohol and other drug use is important.

Risk of suicide is heightened for people with some mental illnesses, particularly soon after diagnosis or release from hospital.

Recovery is Possible

Most people with mental health problems can get better. Treatment and recovery are ongoing processes that happen over time. The first step is getting help.

What is Recovery?

Recovery from mental disorders and/or substance abuse disorders is a process of change through which individuals:

  • Improve their health and wellness
  • Live a self-directed life
  • Strive to achieve their full potential

It’s time to promote appropriate and accessible services for all those in need,” said Cher. She goes on to discuss the importance of talking about mental health problems, and not being afraid to tell someone about a potential problem.

Four Dimensions of Recovery

Four major dimensions support a life in recovery:

  • Health: Make informed, healthy choices that support physical and emotional wellbeing. Overcoming or managing one’s disease(s) or symptoms—for example, abstaining from use of alcohol, illicit drugs, and non-prescribed medications if one has an addiction problem— and for everyone in recovery, making informed, healthy choices that support physical and emotional wellbeing.
  • Home: Have a stable and safe place to live.
  • Purpose: Engage in meaningful daily activities, such as a job or school, volunteering, caring for your family, or being creative. Work for independence, income, and resources to participate in society.
  • Community: Build relationships and social networks that provide support, friendship, love, and hope.

Develop a Recovery Plan

If you are struggling with a mental health problem, you may want to develop a written recovery plan.

Sen. Gordon Smith shares his story about mental health problems, and encourages others to “bring mental health issues out of the shadows.

Recovery plans:

  • Enable you to identify goals for achieving wellness
  • Specify what you can do to reach those goals
  • Include daily activities as well as longer term goals
  • Track any changes in your mental health problem
  • Identify triggers or other stressful events that can make you feel worse, and help you learn how to manage them

Learn More about Recovering from Mental Health Problems

  • Help yourself down the path to recovery.
  • Get information about Partners for Recovery, which provides technical resources to those who deliver services for mental health and substance abuse conditions. 10 GUIDING PRINCIPLES OF RECOVERY

Hope, Person-Driven, Many Pathways, Holistic, Peer Support, Relational, Culture, Addresses Trauma, Strengths/Responsibility, Respect,

1. Recovery emerges from hope The belief that recovery is real provides the essential and motivating message of a better future—that people can and do overcome the internal and external challenges, barriers, and obstacles that confront them. Hope is internalized and can be fostered by peers, families, providers, allies, and others. Hope is the catalyst of the recovery process.

2. Recovery is person-driven Self-determination and self-direction are the foundations for recovery as individuals define their own life goals and design their unique path(s) towards those goals. Individuals optimize their autonomy and independence to the greatest extent possible by leading, controlling, and exercising choice over the services and supports that assist their recovery and resilience. In so doing, they are empowered and provided the resources to make informed decisions, initiate recovery, build on their strengths, and gain or regain control over their lives.

3. Recovery occurs via many pathways Individuals are unique with distinct needs, strengths, preferences, goals, culture, and backgrounds— including trauma experience — that affect and determine their pathway(s) to recovery. Recovery is built on the multiple capacities, strengths, talents, coping abilities, resources, and inherent value of each individual. Recovery pathways are highly personalized. They may include professional clinical treatment; use of medications; support from families and in schools; faith-based approaches; peer support; and other approaches.Recovery is non-linear, characterized by continual growth and improved functioning that may involve setbacks. Because setbacks are a natural, though not inevitable, part of the recovery process, it is essential to foster resilience for all individuals and families. Abstinence from the use of alcohol, illicit drugs, and non-prescribed medications is the goal for those with addictions. Use of tobacco and nonprescribed or illicit drugs is not safe for anyone. In some cases, recovery pathways can be enabled by creating a supportive environment. This is especially true for children, who may not have the legal or developmental capacity to set their own course.

4. Recovery is holistic Recovery encompasses an individual’s whole life, including mind, body, spirit, and community. This includes addressing: self-care practices, family, housing, employment, transportation, education, clinical treatment for mental disorders and substance use disorders, services and supports, primary healthcare, dental care, complementary and alternative services, faith, spirituality, creativity, social networks, and community participation. The array of services and supports available should be integrated and coordinated. 5 Recovery is support

5.Recovery is supported by peers and allies Mutual support and mutual aid groups, including the sharing of experiential knowledge and skills, as well as social learning, play an invaluable role in recovery. Peers encourage and engage other peers and provide each other with a vital sense of belonging, supportive relationships, valued roles, and community. Through helping others and giving back to the community, one helps one’s self. Peeroperated supports and services provide important resources to assist people along their journeys of recovery and wellness. Professionals can also play an important role in the recovery process by providing clinical treatment and other services that support individuals in their chosen recovery paths. While peers and allies play an important role for many in recovery, their role for children and youth may be slightly different. Peer supports for families are very important for children with behavioral health problems and can also play a supportive role for youth in recovery.

6. Recovery is supported through relationship and social networks An important factor in the recovery process is the presence and involvement of people who believe in the person’s ability to recover; who offer hope, support, and encouragement; and who also suggest strategies and resources for change. Family members, peers, providers, faith groups, community members, and other allies form vital support networks. Through these relationships, people leave unhealthy and/or unfulfilling life roles behind and engage in new roles (e.g., partner, caregiver, friend, student, employee) that lead to a greater sense of belonging, personhood, empowerment, autonomy, social inclusion, and community participation.

7. Recovery is culturally-based and influenced Culture and cultural background in all of its diverse representations—including values, traditions, and beliefs—are keys in determining a person’s journey and unique pathway to recovery. Services should be culturally grounded, attuned, sensitive, congruent, and competent, as well as personalized to meet each individual’s unique needs.

8. Recovery is supported by addressing trauma The experience of trauma (such as physical or sexual abuse, domestic violence, war, disaster, and others) is often a precursor to or associated with alcohol and drug use, mental health problems, and related issues. Services and supports should be trauma-informed to foster safety (physical and emotional) and trust, as well as promote choice, empowerment, and collaboration.

9. Recovery involves individual, family, and community strengths and responsibility Individuals, families, and communities have strengths and resources that serve as a foundation for recovery. In addition, individuals have a personal responsibility for their own self-care and journeys of recovery. Individuals should be supported in speaking for themselves. Families and significant others have responsibilities to support their loved ones, especially for children and youth in recovery. Communities have responsibilities to provide opportunities and resources to address discrimination and to foster social inclusion and recovery. Individuals in recovery also have a social responsibility and should have the ability to join with peers to speak collectively about their strengths, needs, wants, desires, and aspirations.

10. Recovery is based on respect Community, systems, and societal acceptance and appreciation for people affected by mental health and substance use problems— including protecting their rights and eliminating discrimination—are crucial in achieving recovery. There is a need to acknowledge that taking steps towards recovery may require great courage. Self-acceptance, developing a positive and meaningful sense of identity, and regaining belief in one’s self are particularly important.


1.) Dimentia: Dementia is a general term for a decline in mental ability severe enough to interfere with daily life. Memory loss is an example. Alzheimer’s is the most common example.Treatment can help, but this condition can’t be cured Chronic: can last for years or be lifelong. Requires a medical diagnosis. (wikipedia)

2.) Attention-deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: A chronic condition including attention difficulty, hyperactivity and impulsiveness. ADHD often begins in childhood and can persist into adulthood. It may contribute to low self-esteem, troubled relationships and difficulty at school or work. Symptoms include limited attention and hyperactivity. Treatments include medication and talk therapy. Treatment can help, but this condition can’t be cured. Chronic: can last for years or be lifelong. (Mayo Clinic)

3.) Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder (OPCD):  is a personality disorder characterized by a general pattern of concern with orderliness, perfectionism, excessive attention to details, mental and interpersonal control, and a need for control over one’s environment, at the expense of flexibility, openness to experience and and efficiency. Workaholism and miserliness are also seen often in those with this personality disorder. Persons affected with this disorder may find it hard to relax, always feeling that time is running out for their activities, and that more effort is needed to achieve their goals. They may plan their activities down to the minute—a manifestation of the compulsive tendency to keep control over their environment and to dislike unpredictable things as things they cannot control. The cause of OCPD is unknown. However, it is believed to involve a combination of genetic and environmental factors. The disorder occurs more often in men.

Treatment for OCPD includes psychotherapycognitive behavioral therapybehavior therapy or self-help. Medication may be prescribed. In behavior therapy, a person with OCPD discusses with a psychotherapist ways of changing compulsions into healthier, productive behaviors. Cognitive analytic therapy is an effective form of behavior therapy.

Treatment is complicated if the person does not accept that they have OCPD, or believes that their thoughts or behaviors are in some sense correct and therefore should not be changed. Medication alone is generally not indicated for this personality disorder. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) may be useful in addition to psychotherapy by helping the person with OCPD be less bogged down by minor details, and to lessen how rigid they are.

People with OCPD are three times more likely to receive individual psychotherapy than people with major depressive disorder.There are higher rates of primary care utilization.There are no known properly controlled studies of treatment options for OCPD. (wikipedia)

10. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder:  Is an anxiety disorder. It can lead to unhealthy patterns of behaviour that can cause difficulties in daily functioning. It  is a common, chronic and long-lasting disorder in which a person has uncontrollable, reoccurring thoughts (obsessions) and behaviors (compulsions) that he or she feels the urge to repeat over and over. OCD often centres on themes such as a fear of germs or the need to arrange objects in a specific manner. Symptoms usually begin gradually and vary throughout life. Treatment includes talk therapy, medication or both. Treatment can help, but this condition can’t be cured. Chronic: can last for years or be lifelong (NIMH and Mayo Clinic)

11. Autism: Autism is a lifelong developmental condition that affects, among other things, the way an individual relates to his or her environment and their interaction with other people.  (

Autism spectrum disorder impacts the nervous system.
The range and severity of symptoms can vary widely. Common symptoms include difficulty with communication, difficulty with social interactions, obsessive interests and repetitive behaviours.
Early recognition, as well as behavioural, educational and family therapies may reduce symptoms and support development and learning. Treatment can help, but this condition can’t be cured. Chronic: can last for years or be lifelong. (Mayo clinic)



Myths, misunderstandings and facts about mental illness

 Australian Government Department of Health

Myths, misunderstandings, and negative stereotypes and attitudes surround mental illness. These result in stigma, discrimination,and isolation of people with mental illness, as well as their families and carers.

Common questions about mental illness are:

Are mental illnesses a form of intellectual disability or brain damage?

No. They are illnesses just like any other, such as heart disease, diabetes, and asthma. Yet the traditions of sympathy, support, and flowers given to people with physical illnesses are often denied to those with a mental illness.

Are mental illnesses incurable and lifelong?

No. When treated appropriately and early, many people recover fully and have no further episodes of illness.

For others, mental illness may recur throughout their lives and require ongoing treatment. This is the same as many physical illnesses, such as diabetes and heart disease. Like these other long-term health conditions, mental illness can be managed so that individuals live life to the fullest.

Although some people become disabled as a result of ongoing mental illness, many who experience even very major episodes of illness live full and productive lives.

Are people born with a mental illness?

No. A vulnerability to some mental illnesses, such as bipolar mood disorder,can run in families. But other people develop mental illness with no family history.

Many factors contribute to the onset of a mental illness. These include stress, bereavement, relationship breakdown, physical and sexual abuse, unemployment,social isolation, and major physical illness or disability. Our understanding of the causes of mental illness is growing.

Can anyone develop a mental illness?

Yes. In fact, as many as one in five Australians may develop a mental illness at some stage in their lives. Everyone is vulnerable to mental health problems.

Many people feel more comfortable with the notion of having ‘a nervous breakdown’ rather than a mental illness. However, it is important to talk openly about mental illness, as this reduces the stigma and helps people to seek early treatment.

Are people with mental illness usually dangerous?

No. This false perception underlies some of the most damaging stereotypes. People with a mental illness are seldom dangerous. Even people with the most severe mental illness are rarely dangerous when receiving appropriate treatment and support.

Should people with a mental illness be isolated from the community?

No. Most people with a mental illness recover quickly and do not even need hospital care. Others have short admissions to hospital for treatment. Improvements in treatment over recent decades mean that most people live in their communities, and there is no need for the confinement and isolation that was commonly used in the past.

A very small number of people with mental illness need hospital care,sometimes against their will. Improvements in treatment are making this less and less common, and fewer than one in a 1000 people are treated this way.

Is stigma one of the biggest problems for people with mental illness?

Yes. One of the biggest obstacles for people recovering from mental illness is confronting the negative attitudes of other people. These often mean that people with mental illness face isolation and discrimination just for having an illness.

Positive and hopeful attitudes of family, friends, service providers, employers, and other members of the community toward people with mental illness are critical to ensuring quality of life for people with mental illness and supporting recovery.

What can be done about the stigma of mental illness?

  • Think about mental illnesses like any other illness or health condition and bring them into the open.
  • Talk about mental illness openly with everyone you meet – it is surprising how many people are affected by mental illness, particularly the highly prevalent disorders of depression and anxiety.
  • Educate the community to overcome negative stereotypes based on misconceptions.
  • Promote mental health and healthy attitudes through childhood and adult life.
  • Support the development of resilience: learn ways to deal with stress in relationships, situations, and events.
  • Assist friends and family with a mental illness to obtain care and treatment as early as possible.
  • Ensure high quality support and treatment services are provided to people with mental illness to promote recovery.
  • Actively support the families and carers of people who have mental illness, who also experience the confusion, distress, and stigma that can accompany mental illness.
  • Address discrimination in every area of life, including employment, education, and the provision of goods, services, and facilities.
  • Encourage research into mental illness to assist understanding of how these illnesses affect people and can be prevented and/or effectively treated.

Where to go for help

  • Your general practitioner.
  • Your community health centre.
  • Your community mental health centre.

For information on services, check the Community Help and Welfare Services and 24-hour emergency numbers in your local telephone directory.

This has great reminders and references to multiple stressors common in everyone's lives.



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