What Is Mental Health?

Mental Health 101


1 July 2020

Happy Asian family using the computer together at home.

While physical health includes our heart, kidney, and ability to move around, mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. Mental health affects how we think, feel, and act. This means mental health can affect the way we handle stress at work, maintain family relationships and friendships, and make everyday choices or large life decisions. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from birth, teenage years, adulthood, and well into our senior years.

Over the duration of a person’s life, their mental health can be affected. Many different factors affect to mental health problems, such as:

  • Biological factors, such as genetics and brain chemistry
  • Life experiences, such as childhood trauma or family abuse
  • Family history of mental health problems

Mental health problems are very common in Malaysia. The Ministry of Health estimates that up to 29% of adults experience mental health issues; this means that in a room of 10 people, up to 3 would have had a history of or is currently experiencing a mental health issue.

While it is common, help is available. People with mental health problems can get better and with the right combination of talk therapy and even medications, many can recover completely to live long, happy, and meaningful lives. 

Early Warning Signs

Do you know of someone 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
  • Avoiding people or usual activities that you enjoy 
  • Having low or no energy, feeling numb or like nothing matters 
  • Having unexplained body aches and pains
  • Feeling like you are a disappointment to your family and friends 
  • 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
  • Hearing voices or believing things that are not true
  • Thinking of harming yourself or others
  • Not able to perform daily tasks like brushing your teeth, taking care of your kids, or getting to work or school
Mental Health and Wellness

What about good mental health? Positive mental health allows people to:

  • Realize their full potential 
  • Cope with the stresses of life
  • Work productively
  • Make meaningful contributions to their communities
  • Feel a sense of belonging with their friends and/or families 

Ways to maintain positive mental health include:

  • Getting professional help when you need it
  • Spending time with friends and enjoying the time spent with them 
  • Staying positive through ups and downs 
  • Staying physically active from exercising 
  • Helping others through charity work or volunteering locally 
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Developing coping skills