These days we are discussing mental health and mental wellness more than ever before. And that is making a real difference. One in four people will be experiencing a mental health problem at some point in their life. So the more we talk about it, the more the stigma around it reduces.
However, as the conversation goes ahead, you might have seen certain terms that keep on coming up together or interchangeably: mental health and mental wellness. But is there a difference between these two? Which one should you be using? Do they refer to the same thing or not?
Let’s break it down for you by first understanding what the terms mean.
What is mental health?
The World Health Organization says that mental health does not only mean the absence of mental illness. It is described as a state of well-being where each person fulfills their maximum potential. It is the state where a person is –
- able to cope with everyday challenges,
- able to work productively and competently,
- able to contribute to their environment, etc.
Mental health is an umbrella term that includes a variety of things. It has a range of mental health issues on one end and mental well-being on the other.
All of us have a state of mental health, the same way as all of us have a state of physical health.
The mere state of mental health does not imply if a person is dealing with a mental issue or not. The state of mental health changes. It is affected by our physical state, environment, and relationships. Protective factors are the ones that positively affect mental health. Negative factors like changes in environment, stress and anxiety might trigger mental health difficulties.
What is mental wellness
Wrapped up in the notion of mental health is the term mental wellness. Mental wellness is hence a part of mental health.
Before going into what mental wellness is, let’s tell you what it isn’t.
It isn’t the absence of mental illness, nor is it the state of permanent happiness.
But then, what is it actually?
It is, in fact, in some cases, the exact opposite.
Mental wellness is a positive state of mental health. It is a phase of emotional and psychological well-being. A person is defined mentally well when he can function at the best level in terms of his emotional and mental abilities.
Mental wellness is the ability to feel, think, analyze, and react.
It is a continuous process of growth. It includes the following aspects:
- Mental: It includes the way you think and understand
- Emotional: It includes the way you feel
- Social: It includes the way you react to people and surroundings
- Psychological: It includes how you make decisions
Almost 15% of the world’s population suffers from a mental condition. However, that doesn’t qualify the rest of the 85% as mentally fit. Many people who do not have mental disorders still can’t function properly. They have other problems like stress or loneliness.
Mental wellness is how your choose to respond to difficulties. It is a sum of growth, self-acceptance, and determination to live life fully.
Begin working toward your mental wellness today with these self-care tips.
What is the difference between mental health and mental wellness?
Is there a difference between mental health and mental wellness? Well, yes and no.
Think of mental health the way you think of physical health. We all fall on a spectrum. On one end, we have our daily health (nutrition, sleep, exercise, etc.), and on the other, we have diagnosable conditions. It is the same with mental health. On one end, we have daily mental health (mood swings, stress, etc.) that all of us go through, and then we have mental health conditions like depression, bipolarity, etc.
When people talk about mental wellness, they generally refer to the everyday sense of mental health. They are talking about the things we go through on a regular basis- burnouts and workplace stress, rather than the whole spectrum of mental health, which includes conditions too.
Let’s understand this through these two sentences.
‘If you are experiencing low mental well-being over a period of time, you are more likely to have a mental health problem.’
‘If you already have a mental health-related issue, you are more likely to have periods of low mental well-being than somebody who doesn’t. But that doesn’t mean that you will not have periods of good mental well-being.’
But, do these mental health terms really matter?
Do words matter when it comes to mental health?
When it comes to the differences between mental health and wellness, a person might prefer one over the other while talking about their life. And that’s their choice. The important thing is to not pressure someone into labeling something they aren’t ready to – no matter how helpful you may find it personally.
It is also important to consider the whole spectrum of mental health. We get so caught up in the ‘everyday’ mental health and the self-help tips that we end up minimizing the reality and severity of mental illnesses. People might need professional help to get through the challenges they face during mental illnesses.
Listen to the stories of other people. Respect the terms they use and ponder over what works for you. It’s absolutely up to you. You may use mental health and wellness interchangeably or prefer one over the other while talking about yourself.
The most important thing is to talk openly about what we are going through. It is to be able to realize how our habits and surroundings affect us and what are the things in our life that make us happy. Being able to pinpoint the boundaries we need to put in place to create a safe space for ourselves makes an essential part of mental health-related conversations.
So whatever you choose to talk about, having the conversation is important.
The next time you come across mental health and mental wellness, we hope you will realize the distinction well.
Now that you know this difference well let’s take you to another set of synonymously used words. STRESS AND ANXIETY. Read more about the difference here.
Together we can work toward building these safe spaces for our people. Mental Health Awareness needs to take center stage. To keep learning a thing or two about mental health with us daily, subscribe to