What is the difference between mental health and mental illness?

Mental health and mental illness

We sometimes hear these terms used interchangeably.

“I think sometimes we are scared of getting the words wrong incase we offend people or make the situation worse for them.”  David Smith, Chief Executive, HEY Mind

What is mental health?

We all have mental health, just like we all have physical health. Some people’s mental health may be poorer than others and, at times, our mental health can be poorer than it is at other times. Our mental health and our physical health is never static but, instead, fluid.

What is mental illness?

Mental illness is when someone has been diagnosed with a mental health problem. Usually, it means a criteria used by the health profession has been reached so it is likely that the mental health issue someone is experiencing has remained for a significant period of time, or perhaps it has reached higher levels of intensity or pervasiveness.

This mental health issue will likely be impacting on somebody’s everyday life, affecting their quality of life and often needing clinical treatment or therapy.

Mental illness is varied and takes many different forms, with depression and anxiety being the most prominent in mainstream conversation. Mental illness affects different people differently and can have mild to severe impacts on an individual.

Mental illness can affect anybody, no matter their lifestyle or circumstances, so it’s important for people to reach out if they feel they may be experiencing mental illness.

The importance of looking after our mental health

It is important to look after our physical health through regular exercise, a healthy diet, good sleep, and more, in order to prevent immediate or delayed physical health conditions.

It’s important to do the same for our mental health.

In making sure we have the right strategies and approach in looking after our mental wellbeing and supporting ourselves in the right way to ensure our mental health remains good but more importantly to have means of improving it when it dips or at times when our mental health is poorer.

There are so many ways to take proactive care of our mental health. Self-care strategies, therapy, talking more, getting out into nature – the list is endless.

It’s important to realise that looking after our mental health is an ongoing process, which is exactly why we created the clinically proven My Possible Self App, to help support people in their mental health journey.

We also have a free module on managing fear and anxiety to help you get to know the app to see if it’s right for you and, most importantly, support you in managing any fear or anxieties you may have.