Mental Health Explained

Mental health is a huge umbrella term that is interpreted differently by each individual. The Mental Health Commission of Canada defines mental health as “a state of wellbeing in which the individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her own community”. Although mental illness can impact one’s quality of life, one can still experience mental health while living with, even, a severe mental disorder. In order to live a happy and sucessful life while treating your mental illness, it is important to remember that co-existance. A mental disorder is defined as health conditions characterized by alterations in a variety of factors including: mood, behaviour, thinking and cognition. The disorders are associated with various degrees of distress and impaired functioning.

Mental Illness Testing, Diagnosis and Treatment

mental health recovery and relaxation and meditation

It is vital to recognize signs and symptoms of mental disorders in order to get the proper treatment. Many individuals are aware that they are suffering from a mental illness, but never seek help or testing. The Diagnostic and Statistical manual (DSM-5) is used by professionals to test clients for mental illnesses. It provides a common language for health care professionsals to use.

DSM-5 has three sections. First off, an introduction and explanation of its use, including a caution regarding its forensic use. Secondly, the diagnostic criteria and codes. Lastly, emerging measures (assessment) and models, an alternative model for personalty disorders, and conditions for further study.

Diagnostic categories include: neurodevelopmental disorders, scizophrenia, bipolar, depressive disorder, anxiety disorder, obsessive- compulsive disorder, sexual dysfunctions, personality disorders and many more.

Other conditions that may be a focus of clinical attenion include: relationship issues, abuse and neglect, educational and occupational problems, housing and economic issues, issues related to crime or legal system, and counciling advice.

Receiving diagnoses can be a relief for both the individual and their families. Although, reciving a diagnosis may come as shocking, frightening and often scary, it gives an explaination to signs and symptoms a person is having. It also creates a better understanding for behaviour changes, and most importantly treatment can begin.  Evidence based care is used for a better understanding of mental health, illnesses, and wellbeing. This form of care insures the best interventions are used.

Now that researchers understand more about transmission, brain functioning, and psychopharmacology focus is shifting to find biological markers. Biological markers are diagnostic test findings and neuropathic changes that are only present in people with psychiatric disorders. These finding may have a predictive value allowing for the possibility of preventing the onset of illnesses. This can determine the expected prognosis early on.

Social Determinants Of Health

peoples hands

Social determinants of health are defined as the conditions which people are born, grow, live, and work in. Preconception up to the age of six is a very critical time for child development, positive stimulation, and influences for learning, behaviour and sense of identity. 

Socio-economic factors such as income, social status, social networks, education, employment, working conditions, physical enviroment, and avaliable health services all effect one’s wellbeing. Poorer socio-econimic circumstances and social exclusion can increase the likley hood of adopting unhealthy or risky behaviours and create feelings of hopelessness and helplessness. The lower the socio-economic status, the worse the health. 

Cultural Saftey

Vulnerable groups, such as Aboriginals, are at a disadvantage; one which leads to the risk of emotional or physical harm. All cultural groups must feel comfortable and safe when seeking help and treatment. Health care providers are all responsible for maintaining cultural safe practice. Cultural competence is considered an “entry to practice,” and involves respect, equality, cultural sensitivity and valuing diversity. Health care providers must acknowledge their own knowledge deflects regarding other cultures. Cultural competency involves cultural diversity through an atmosphere of respect. Please feel safe getting help and treatment knowing about the expectations and standards of health care providers.

The health care profession is one of the most trusted and ethical careers. As professionals, they profess a claim to use their skills to benifit the public.


growth of a new plant

Recovery is a process which people living with mental health problems and illnesses are empowered and supported to be actively engaged in their own journey of wellbeing. The recovery process builds on individual, family, and community relationships. Recovery also enables people to enjoy a meaningful life in their community while striving to acheive their full potential. 

Federal And Provincial Laws For Mental Health

In Canada, each province and territory is guided by its own Mental Health Act which provides a framework for the delivery of mental health service and established rules for people suffering with mental illness. This ensures that everyone recives the required care and treatment. Each Act is congruent with the rights stipulated by The Charter Of Rights and Freedoms.

Mental health legislation means to protect and promote the mental wellbeing of citizens. This means to protect the rights of persons with mental disorders, and provide a mechanism for the care and treatment of those with illnesses that interfere with their ability to recognize their need for assistance and/or ability to seek help.

Involuntary Admission

If and when a person has been examined by a physician and indicates that the person has a mental illness, and is likely to cause harm to themselves or others, or to suffer substantial mental or physical harm then a person can be admitted for treatment involuntarily.

The competence of the person to make decisions regarding treatment, thus able to give consent, must be assessed as a form of respect. When a person is unable or unsuitable to give consent, the decisions can be made by family or a relative. The person’s best interest is always in mind. This means that treatment will make the person less ill and any benefits outweigh the risks.


Suicide help line (Life Line) – 1-800-273-8255

Click Here For Mental Health Support In Canada

Click Here for Blogs like this one such as “The Long History Of Mental Health”

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.