Just like physical health, mental health is something that we all have and need to look after. It relates to our thoughts, beliefs and feelings about ourselves and the world around us. Aspects of positive mental health include feeling good about ourselves and others, being able to cope with life's ups and downs, and feeling able to make a contribution to the society we live in.
Mental health problems affect society as a whole, and not just a small, isolated segment. While certain groups are more vulnerable, no-one is immune to poor mental health.
One in four people in Northern Ireland will experience problems that affect their mental health, yet very few of us are willing to talk about the subject openly. Those with mental health problems often face stigma and discrimination, and fear of these can prevent them from getting help and hinder their recovery.
As with physical illness, mental illness includes a wide range of problems and conditions. Often these involve feelings of depression, anxiety or confusion. The growing up years can be a difficult time for young people and their families. Concerns about appearance, school or work, friends, the future and family, are among the many sources of stress and anxiety. It is perfectly normal to feel down or worried from time to time, particularly after a distressing life event, such as a bereavement or being diagnosed with a physical illness or disability. However, with mental illness, these feelings occur to such an extent, or for such a long period of time, that they make it difficult to cope with and enjoy everyday life.
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