Mental health vs mental illness - what's the difference?

 Well hello to you my reader chums! Talking about mental health is something I'm hugely passionate about and something that deserves constant recognition. Since the pandemic, I think many of us have realised how important it was to take care of our mental health and put ourselves first if we're not feeling okay. It's a conversation I've been fighting for years to have and it's good to see progress being made, with many of us finally opening up and talking.

However, I think one thing which always needs to be spoken about more is the difference between mental health and mental illness. We all have mental health and some people have mental illness and in this post, I'm going to share what the differences are.

Mental health vs mental illness

What is mental health?

By definition, mental health is the psychological and emotional well-being of someone. Mental health is the care of your own mind and emotions and is to do with how you think and how you feel. We all have mental health as we all have feelings. Mental health varies in people from being good and bad, and this can be down to circumstance or generally, how we are all different people and nobody's brain is the same.

What is mental illness?

Mental illness is a health condition that involves changes in thinking emotion or behaviour. They can vary across a whole spectrum of different illnesses from anxiety, depression to bipolar, eating disorders, and more. As mental illnesses are an illness, they need a different type of care and attention than our mental health does. Every mental illness has a different treatment, it's not a one size fits all situation and this is where mental health can be similar too.

How can I speak about each one as separate things?

The two are completely different in what they are so when you speak about them, the differentiation should be apparent. Mental health should be referred to when you're talking about your wellbeing as a whole, how you're feeling, and whether it's good to bad. Whilst mental illness refers to an actual condition such as anxiety. This means if you're speaking about anxiety or depression, for instance, use the phrase mental illness rather than mental health. And, the similar thing applies when talking about your feelings. Talk about it as mental health unless it's a diagnosable condition.

Why it is important to know the difference between the two

The importance is the reason I'm writing this post, to bring awareness of the difference between the two and why we need to treat them as completely different topics. 

It's important for many reasons. The first is, that those who live with a mental illness, often feel unseen or unheard when you speak about their condition in the 'mental health' context as they're not receiving the care, support, or understanding they require, as it's more than just human emotions. It's important because once we learn to differentiate the two, we can understand that we all deserve the care and attention for our mental health because even if it's not an illness, it's part of being human. It's normal and natural to feel a variety of emotions and all parts of your emotional wellbeing. Also, it's essential to build our understanding and knowledge of mental health and the type of mental illnesses out there. This education can not only help yourself and your wellbeing but the people around you - as well as break the stigma around mental health and illness.

It's important now more than ever to seek the help you need and open up about your mental health and mental illness as it makes others not feel so alone in their own head, the way we all feel at some point. Starting conversations can really change lives and the time is now to do so.

How to get help 

Whether you're struggling with your mental health, feeling alone, or dealing with a mental illness, there is always someone to talk to. These hotlines below offer the care and support you need, when you're feeling uncertain, unwell or require some guidance:

Text 'SHOUT' to 85258 (UK-wide)

Samaritans - Call 116 123 (UK-wide)

Mind UK - 0300 123 3393

I hope you enjoyed this post. Do you have anything to add?

Thank you for reading <3

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