Mental Health vs. Mental Illness: What’s the Difference? – Presented by Danny Davis


By: Danny Davis

This week, May 8th through 12th, is mental health awareness week at Morro Bay High School. Now more than ever it is imperative that the topics of mental health and mental illness are examined and discussed so that society can learn to recognize the difference between mental health and mental illness and give those who are struggling the proper health and care that they may need. 

Mental health consists of the various mental state processes that determine how you perceive and react to social stimuli, such as: cultural expectations, occupational or academic expectations, the opinions of your friends, and peers, et cetera. Everyone experiences these various states and processes, ergo everyone experiences either good or bad mental health. Just because you have poor mental health doesn’t mean you have a mental illness. 

A mental illness is a severe type of psychological disorder. A mental disorder is a pattern of thoughts, feelings, behaviors, or perceptions that deviate from normal patterns of thought, feelings, behaviors and perceptions. They impair a person’s ability to perform daily vital tasks needed to function in everyday life to a certain degree. A mental illness is often the result of either too much, or too little, of one or more chemicals called neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are responsible for either allowing or dampering the ability of electrical impulses called action potential to jump in between neurons in your brain using synapses.  If there is too much, or not enough of these vital molecules in your brain, you will experience the mental states conducive to mental illness. It is important to remember that these illnesses are real physical illnesses. Just because you can’t visibly see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Therefore, people who suffer from them should be taken seriously, and should be given the same benefits as those suffering from other types of illness. 

How can I improve my mental health? 

A good way to improve your mental health is to build healthy, long-lasting relationships with other people. Getting enough sleep is also vital to good mental health. You might also benefit from seeing a therapist. The exact same thing applies to people who suffer from mental illness, with the possible addition of certain medications. However, it is important to remember that as long as you are not a danger to yourself or others, medications are optional. Different people react differently to medications, and they are not for everyone.

I would like to conclude by wishing everyone a happy mental health awareness week, and remember this motto. Acceptance, education, and observation. Thank you.   

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