What is mental health?

What is it?

Mental health is a term used to describe our overall emotional wellbeing. Mental health affects how we think, how we feel and how we act. Mental health can impact on every area of our lives and that is why it is so important. Lots of things can contribute to our mental health including:

  • biological factors (our genetic make-up and our brain chemistry)
  • life experiences (the things we have seen and gone through in our lives)
  • family history (other people in the family who may have mental health difficulties)


When does it happen?

Mental health doesn’t really happen. In fact we have ‘mental health’ all the time, sometimes it will be better than at other times, a bit like a sliding scale and a bit like physical health. It is possible to have good mental health as well as poor mental health (mental health difficulties).

Over your life, your mental health may go up and it may go down, this is normal. We are more vulnerable to developing certain mental health difficulties at certain ages. For example, it is common to experience mental health difficulties when you are a teenager because we go through a lot at that age in terms of our hormones, developing our identities, social pressures, school stress and family life.

Mental health difficulties are really common and that is why there is lots of help available. Mental health problems are not anything to be ashamed of; around 1 in 10 people under the age of 25 experience mental health problems, and many more will experience problems with their general emotional or behavioural wellbeing.

We know that preventing these sorts of difficulties in the first place is the best thing to do. The next best thing is getting support and advice early before mental health difficulties develop further and get in the way of life.


When does it go away?

Mental health difficulties do not usually stick around and get in the way of life forever. With time and support, most young people recover from mental health difficulties and go on to achieve their goals in life. Young people usually find that the things that help them recover from mental health difficulties, help them to be ‘resilient’ in the future and help cope with future difficulties.