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Mental Health VS. Mental Illness

Updated: May 21

What's the difference?


By Ally Nelson

Did you know that May is Mental Health Awareness month? Here’s a little insight for you about the differences between mental health and mental illness. These words are often used interchangeably but have distinct differences that are important in mental health work.


Mental health is defined as “a person’s 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 choices.”


EVERYONE has a state of mental health that deserves to be addressed, just the same as our physical health! Keeping up with your mental health might look like practicing meditation, talking with someone you love, prioritizing self care, and checking in with a therapist.


Try thinking of your therapist the same way you'd think about meeting with a personal trainer at the gym (one who is super nice and compassionate and wants the best for you!), a person to give you guidance and help you challenge things that aren’t working for you. Mental health is an important and essential piece of wellness to maintain.


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Mental illness is defined as health conditions involving changes in emotion, thinking or behavior (or a combination of these). Mental illnesses are associated with distress and/or problems functioning in social, work or family activities.”


Mental illnesses are health conditions that make it difficult to function in day to day life. Our mental health can be affected by mental illness. Mental illness falls on a spectrum, where the severity can vary. This spectrum is dependent on a person’s trauma history, genetic makeup, lifestyle habits, etc. Mental illness needs to be treated just as urgently as a physical illness.


Imagine you left a cut untreated. It could get infected, spread to other parts of your body, and even create abscesses which could spike a fever!


The same thing happens when you leave a mental wound or illness uncared for. If you never process a traumatic event it will manifest in different ways, maybe affecting your behaviors, sleep patterns, ability to communicate, and more! If you never challenge an anxious thought you’ll stay stuck in beliefs that aren’t serving you. You’ll live your life in a limited capacity and never feel the freedom of expanding your comfort zone.


Treat an illness with professional help. Reach out to a therapist. Talk with a doctor about medication if needed. Take time to rest and know that there are so many resources available to help your healing!



Mental illness is just as serious as physical illness.


Mental health is just as important as physical health.


If you need help maintaining your mental health or getting a grasp on a mental illness, feel free to set up a FREE 30 minute consultation with any therapist on our staff or schedule an intake appointment to get treatment started right away. We can’t wait to help you heal and meet your mental health goals!



Click HERE to read our therapists bios!



https://www.mentalhealth.gov/basics/what-is-mental-health

https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/what-is-mental-illness




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