What is mental health?
Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make healthy choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.
Although the terms are often used interchangeably, poor mental health and mental illness are not the same. A person can experience poor mental health and not be diagnosed with a mental illness. Likewise, a person diagnosed with a mental illness can experience periods of physical, mental, and social well-being.
Why is mental health important for overall health?
Mental and physical health are equally important components of overall health. For example, depression increases the risk for many types of physical health problems, particularly long-lasting conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. Similarly, the presence of chronic conditions can increase the risk for mental illness.
Can your mental health change over time?
Yes, it’s important to remember that a person’s mental health can change over time, depending on many factors. When the demands placed on a person exceed their resources and coping abilities, their mental health could be impacted. For example, if someone is working long hours, caring for a relative, or experiencing economic hardship, they may experience poor mental health.
How common are mental illnesses?
Mental illnesses are among the most common health conditions in the United States.
- More than 50% will be diagnosed with a mental illness or disorder at some point in their lifetime.
- 1 in 5 Americans will experience a mental illness in a given year.
- 1 in 5 children, either currently or at some point during their life, have had a seriously debilitating mental illness.
- 1 in 25 Americans lives with a serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depression.
What causes mental illness?
There is no single cause for mental illness. A number of factors can contribute to risk for mental illness, such as
- Early adverse life experiences, such as trauma or a history of abuse (for example, child abuse, sexual assault, witnessing violence, etc.)
- Experiences related to other ongoing (chronic) medical conditions, such as cancer or diabetes
- Biological factors or chemical imbalances in the brain
- Use of alcohol or drugs
- Having feelings of loneliness or isolation
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Over the course of your life, if you experience mental health problems, your thinking, mood, and behavior could be affected. Many factors contribute to mental health problems, including:
- Biological factors, such as genes or brain chemistry
- Life experiences, such as trauma or abuse
- Family history of mental health problems
Early Warning Signs
Not sure if you or someone you know is living with mental health problems? Experiencing one or more of the following feelings or behaviors can be an early warning sign of a problem:
- Eating or sleeping too much or too little
- Pulling away from people and usual activities
- Having low or no energy
- Feeling numb or like nothing matters
- Having unexplained aches and pains
- Feeling helpless or hopeless
- Smoking, drinking, or using drugs more than usual
- Feeling unusually confused, forgetful, on edge, angry, upset, worried, or scared
- Yelling or fighting with family and friends
- Experiencing severe mood swings that cause problems in relationships
- Having persistent thoughts and memories you can't get out of your head
- Hearing voices or believing things that are not true
- Thinking of harming yourself or others
- Inability to perform daily tasks like taking care of your kids or getting to work or school
Need to Speak to Someone Right Away?
“988” is the three-digit, nationwide phone number to connect directly to the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline
There is hope. The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline – previously known as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – is a national network of more than 200 crisis centers that helps thousands of people overcome crisis situations every day. These centers are supported by local and state sources as well as the Department of Health and Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). As of July 16, 2022, all calls and text messages to “988” route to a 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline call center. The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline provides 24/7, confidential support to people in suicidal crisis or mental health-related distress.
211 Broward is the live, 24-hour comprehensive helpline, providing all people with crisis, health and human services support, and connecting them to resources in our community. For more information visit https://www.211-broward.org/crisis-and-suicide-care or you can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Are you a Veteran in crisis or concerned about one?
You're not alone—the Veterans Crisis Line is here for you. You don't have to be enrolled in VA benefits or health care to call. The Veterans Crisis Line provides free, confidential support 27/7, 365 days a year.
Department of Elder Affairs (DOEA)
The health and wellness of older adults is intrinsically linked to their behavioral health, which includes the thoughts and emotions a person experiences, and the habits and actions that a person takes during the course of their daily life. The DOEA has curated some national, state, and local behavioral health resources to assist older adults in receiving mental health and substance abuse services and remain connected to their community. For more information visit https://elderaffairs.org/mental-wellness
Gerontological Counseling (GECI – Individual and GECO – Group)
Gerontological counseling provides emotional support, information, and guidance through a variety of modalities including mutual support groups for older adults who are having mental, emotional or social adjustment problems that have arisen because of the process of aging.
For more information, contact the following Broward County locations that provide GECI or GECO:
Northeast Focal Point: 954.480.4449
Northwest Focal Point: 954.973.0300
Southcentral Southeast Focal Point: 954.889.2707
Southwest Focal Point: 954.450.6888
Henderson Behavioral Health
Established in 1953, Henderson Behavioral Health (HBH or Henderson) provides healthcare, housing, and hope for over 30,000 persons of all ages with behavioral health conditions in Florida each year. Through care, supported employment, advocacy, and housing, Henderson assists and inspires people with mental illnesses and substance use disorders to reclaim their lives. For more information visit www.hendersonbh.org.
National Alliance on Mental Illness
NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness.
NAMI Broward County
4161 NW 5 Street, Suite 203
Plantation, FL 33317
Mission: to improve the quality of life for people with mental illness and their families through support, education, and advocacy.
ConnectingWithU is a free, telephone reassurance service that provides emotional support for Seniors in Broward County. ConnectingWithU offers an individualized, emotionally safe space for Seniors to express their feelings and concerns while staying interconnected to others from the comfort of their own home. ConnectingWithU calls can prevent Seniors from feeling isolated, becoming depressed, requiring medical services, or potentially institutional placement as a result of being disconnected from human interaction and emotional instability.