Mental Health vs Mental Illness

Mental Health vs Mental Illness

Amanda Collier

Not everyone will experience mental illness. However, everyone has mental health.

1 in 5 adults in the US experiences mental illness each year. 1 in 20 will experience severe mental illness.

5 in 5 adults will experience mental health. 20 in 20 adults will have to make a conscious effort to protect it.

Mental illness can be defined as many things. It is “a condition that affects a person's thinking, feeling, behavior or mood. These conditions deeply impact day-to-day living as well as your ability to function.”  (NAMI)

“Mental health refers to your emotional and psychological well-being. Having good mental health helps you lead a relatively happy and healthy life. It helps you demonstrate resilience and the ability to cope in the face of life’s adversities.” (Healthline)


Often times it feels that mental illness controls you, your thoughts, feelings, reactions. However, you are in control of your mental health. Of course, you still have thoughts, feelings, and reactions, but you don't let them control you.


There is not a vaccine to prevent mental illness. So what can you do to safeguard your mental health?


Ways to maintain your mental health include:

Learning how to best respond to your stress. This is individual and can look different for all of us. Go on a hike, work out, watch a movie, stay off social media, meditate, journal. Find a coping mechanism that works for YOU!

  • Knowing when to remove yourself from people or situations that act as triggers
  • Setting healthy boundaries
  • Surrounding yourself with people who will support and uplift you. Spend quality time with them. Connection is key. Know that you do not have to defend your mental health to anyone. If you find yourself doing so, walk away.
  • Taking time for yourself: take a bath, read a book, go on a walk etc.
  • Staying on top of your physical health: be active and eat well, don’t forget to hydrate, get plenty of sleep.
  • Talking about your feelings
  • Being able to seek professional help as needed.


Several factors can affect our mental health. You can’t always control these things, but by understanding mental health and the challenges that come with it—you are better equipped to combat the tough times and protect your mental wellbeing.

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