Mental Health Uncovered

Careena Sharma is a Registered Clinical Counsellor with a Masters degree in Counselling Psychology.

Mental Health Uncovered

Mental health refers to one’s cognitive, behavioural and emotional well-being. It affects how we think, feel and behave. Our mental health determines the way we manage stressors, our thought patterns and our actions.

Many people do not talk mental health concerns due to shame, guilt or stigma attached to the term “mental” health. But it is nothing to be ashamed of. Mental health is a medical condition just like heart disease or diabetes and it is treatable. Our mental health is just as important as our physical health and therefore it requires the same attention as any other physical disease.

There are many factors that contribute to mental health problems:

  • Biological factors, such as genes
  • Life experiences, such as abuse or trauma
  • Family history

Mental Health vs. Mental Illness

Mental Health involves one’s day-to-day functioning such as:

  • Productive activities such as, working, attending school, managing household tasks.
  • Maintaining healthy relationships
  • Ability to cope with adversity and accept to change

Mental illness refers to all diagnosable mental disorders — health conditions that affect one’s mood, thoughts and behaviour. Some of the common types of mental illnesses include depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, mood disorders, eating disorders and addictive behaviors.

Early signs

Experiencing one of more of the following behaviours for a consistent period of time can be an early warning sign of a problem:

  • Changes in eating habits – eating or drinking too much or too little
  • Consistently low energy
  • Distancing one self from friends and family
  • Withdrawing from activities that you normally enjoy
  • Experiencing severe mood swings – angry, confused, annoyed, worried or scared
  • Excessive drinking or using drugs more than normal
  • Unable to perform daily tasks like getting dressed or cooking a meal
  • Hearing voices and believing things that aren’t true
  • Thinking of harming one self or others


There are many different treatment options available. It is important to know that “one size does not fit all”, which mean what works for one person may not work for another. So it’s important to educate yourself about the various treatment options and be the judge of what treatment suits you best.

Treatments can include:

Psychotherapy (talk therapy) – a psychological approach to treating mental illness with modalities such as, Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), Solution-Focused therapy to name a few.

Mindful Medication – Mindful meditations is a mental practice of focusing your mind on present moment (the here and now).

Lifestyle changes – Focusing on self-care through healthy eating, reducing alcohol intake and sleeping well.


  • Mental health does not discriminate. It can affect anyone regardless of their age, gender, geography, income, social status, race/ethnicity, religion/spirituality, sexual orientation, background or other aspect of cultural identity.
  • While mental illness can occur at any age, three-fourths of all mental illness begins by age 24.
  • Around 20% of the world’s children and adolescents have mental disorders or problems. Source: World Health Organization
  • About 800 000 people commit suicide every year. Source: World Health Organization
  • Stigma and discrimination prevent people from seeking mental health care


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