The Difference Between Mental Health and Mental Illness

Hello again to all returning readers and welcome to those who are reading for the first time! This is the official blog for Life & Wellness Counseling and Consulting and we are glad that you’re here. 


Last week, we focused on the topic of Sexual Abuse and Sexual Assault and this week our blog post will discuss the topic of Mental Health vs. Mental Illness. Be sure to check-in with us weekly because life is beautiful! 


We at Life & Wellness see a HUGE need to clarify the difference between the terms Mental Health and Mental Illness. A large number of the population believes that the two words are interchangeable. FALSE!!! Let’s explore the differences, shall we?


When the words mental health are used in any capacity, most people automatically think “crazy”! However, mental health actually refers to a person’s well-being, how well a person can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community. Taking care of your mind and mental state is just like having your annual physical or going to the doctor if you’re feeling ill. Sometimes, especially when dealing with today’s stressors, we need to do a mental check in order to make sure that we aren’t mentally drained. Like a doctor may prescribe medication or direct us to do certain things to maintain our health, we may need guidance on how to maintain our mental health. This may mean needing to see a therapist. Seeing a therapist DOES NOT mean that you are CRAZY!! It simply means that you need guidance maintaining your mental health.


Now, let’s look at the term mental illness. Mental illness refers to a condition that affects a person’s mood, thinking and behavior. Let’s parallel mental illness with our example of going to the doctor. So, as stated above, taking care of our mental health is like taking care of our physical health. We go to a therapist for a mental check-up like we go to a doctor for a physical. But sometimes when we go to the doctor, we find out we have an illness, like diabetes. This is the condition that affects our physical health. Mental illnesses are the conditions that affect our mental health. Sometimes treatment for a mental illness may require more than just seeing a “doctor” (therapist). A person may need to couple their therapy with medication, just like a diabetic would couple their diabetic treatments with medication.


Now that you have a better understanding of the difference between Mental Health and Mental Illness, take time to do a check of your mental health. Don’t be afraid to talk to a therapist if you aren’t feeling mentally up to par. Check out our video below, for more information about the differences between Mental Health and Mental Illness.




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