What is Mental Health?
The World Health Organization, defines mental health as a state of well-being in which the individual realizes their own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to their community. It is related to the promotion of well-being, the prevention of mental disorders, and the treatment and rehabilitation of people affected by mental disorders.
According to Mental Health First Aid, a mental disorder or mental illness is defined as a diagnosable illness that affects a person's behavior, emotional state, and thinking. It also disrupts the person's ability to work and/or carry out daily activities and engage in satisfying relationships.
In the United States alone, it is estimated that about 20 percent of the population between the ages of 5-54 are affected by a mental disorder - such as anxiety and depression. Some cases may only last for a short period of time, while others may last a lifetime.
Facts About Mental Health Disorders in Children and Adolescents
- As many as five percent of children and eight percent of of adolescents in the US have depression.
- Anxiety disorders are among the most common mental health challenges that occur in children and adolescents.
- Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) affects an estimated 4.1 percent of youth ages 9-17.
- Approximately three percent of adolescents in the US have eating disorders.
Impact of Mental Health Disorders
Mental health challenges and disorders can be as disabling as cancer or heart disease in terms of premature death, lost productivity, and poor quality of life. For youth and teens, mental illness can affect their education, ability to work and form relationships, and they can lead to the use and abuse of alcohol and/or drugs. It is extremely important to detect problems early and ensure that the person is properly treated and supported.