Breaking down mental health vs. mental illness

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Isa Burkhart

Treatments look different when facing mental health vs. mental illness.

Isa Burkhart, News Editor

The difference between mental health and mental illness is often lost on many people. Common advice such as drink water, do yoga, stop thinking about it and more are all attempts at helping a person in need. However, as helpful as this advice is thought to be, truthfully, it is not. Let’s clarify.

Mental health is defined as “[t]he general condition of one’s mental and emotional state.” Whereas mental illness is defined as “[a] broad range of medical conditions that are marked primarily by sufficient disorganization of personality, mind, or emotions to impair normal psychological functioning.”

It may be hard to distinguish between the two, but there is a huge difference between the words. Mental health can better be described as the maintaining of your emotional and physical well-being. Both affect the other and both fluctuate as life moves through different situations, ages, relationships and more. 

Mental illness, on the other hand, comes from a chemical imbalance within the brain. Ranging from depression to schizophrenia, mental illness is made up of a wide variety of different psychological problems, all of which may last from weeks to a lifetime. 

These kinds of problems are handled differently from person to person, varying on level of severity, reasoning and length of time. More than 50 percent of the population will experience some kind of mental illness or disorder at some point during their lifetime. 

In adolescence, this process can be scary and hard to navigate. PV sophomore Ella Hurst gave her advice for teens struggling with mental illness, “Breathe, no matter what you are going through it will get better. Reach out if you need help and know that you are loved no matter what.” 

It may be hard to believe that there are people around who will support and love you. Mental illness often prevents a person from reaching out to receive help from adults and can cause a person to think irrationally. While mental health can be helped by exercise, eating a healthy meal or surrounding yourself with friends, mental illness changes your entire view on living. 

It is important to validate all feelings, whether it is from regular stress or a mental disorder, all feelings need to be heard. Reach out to the people around you and trust that even if it may not feel like it now, you will not feel like this forever.