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JULY 3, 2024

What is Mental Health?

Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act, and helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Mental Illnesses, also known as disorders and/or conditions, can range from mild to severe. Mental Illness can be situational, based on environmental factors like stress, or certain conditions may be long-lasting. Additionally, one’s mental health can have a direct impact on their physical health, and vice versa. [1] In the United States, Mental Illnesses are very common; it is estimated that more than one in five adults live with some form of mental illness. [2]


Figure 1: 1 in 5 American Adults will have a diagnosable mental health condition in any given year.

Furthermore, it is estimated that one in six U.S. youth aged 6-17 experience a mental health disorder each year.[3]


Determinants of Mental Health

Understanding the causes of mental illness is a complex endeavor that involves various factors, including biological, psychological, and environmental elements. While pinpointing a single cause can be challenging, researchers point to the following factors that may contribute to mental health conditions: [4]

  • Adverse Childhood Experiences, such as trauma or history of abuse.

  • Experiences related to other ongoing (chronic) medical conditions, such as a traumatic brain injury, cancer, or diabetes.

  • Biological factors (genetics, family history) or chemical imbalances in the brain.  

  • Use of alcohol or drugs

  • Having feelings of loneliness or isolation

  • Stress

Knowing that treatments and resources are accessible regardless of the cause of your mental health condition is crucial. Depending on the severity of your condition, various treatment options are available, such as psychological therapy, medication, peer support groups, etc.

Warning Signs of a Developing Mental Health Condition

When addressing mental health, recognizing warning signs is crucial for early intervention and support. Whether for oneself or others, understanding these indicators can pave the way for seeking assistance and navigating challenges. Listed below are common warning signs that signify potential mental health concerns. [5] 

  • Eating or sleeping too much or too little. 

  • Pulling away from people and usual activities.

  • Having low or no energy.

  • Feeling numb or like nothing matters.

  • Having unexplained aches and pains.

  • Feeling helpless or hopeless.

  • Smoking, drinking, or using drugs more than usual.

  • Feeling unusually confused, forgetful, on edge, angry, upset, worried, or scared.

  • Experiencing severe mood swings that cause problems in relationships.

  • Having persistent thoughts and memories you can’t get out of your head.

  • Hearing voices or believing things that are not true.

  • Thinking of harming yourself or others.

  • Inability to perform daily tasks like taking care of your kids or getting to work or school.



Effects of Stress on Mental Health

One of the primary causes of negative mental health conditions is stress. Stress can greatly impact mental health. When we experience stress, whether from work, relationships, or other life challenges, it can take a toll on our emotional well-being. Persistent stress can contribute to feelings of anxiety, depression, and feeling overwhelmed. It's essential to recognize the signs of stress and take proactive steps to manage it. Stress can cause the following: [6]

  • Feeling of fear, anger, sadness, worry, numbness, or frustration.

  • Changes in appetite, energy, desires, and interests.

  • Trouble concentrating and making decisions.

  • Nightmares or problems sleeping.

  • Physical reactions, such as headaches, body pains, stomach problems, or skin rashes.

  • Worsening of chronic health problems and mental health conditions.

  • Increased use of alcohol, illegal drugs, and misuse of prescription drugs.

Healthy Mental Health Practices:

Maintaining good mental health involves adopting healthy practices that support emotional well-being. These practices encompass various aspects of daily life, including self-care routines, social connections, and stress management techniques. By prioritizing activities that promote mental wellness, such as exercise, mindfulness, and engaging in hobbies, individuals can cultivate resilience and better cope with life's challenges. Embracing these healthy habits can lead to a more balanced and fulfilling life. [7]

  • Take care of your body.

    • Eat Healthy

      • Healthy eating can be challenging, but small steps can lead to great change! One way to start could be incorporating more fruits and vegetables into your diet.

    • Get enough sleep

      • Healthy sleeping patterns are crucial to improving your mental health, and overall well-being. Try your best to develop a routine, go to bed and wake up around the same time each day. It is recommended that adults aim to get at least seven hours of sleep each night; teenagers need nine to ten hours; and young children require at least ten hours of sleep, on average.

    • Exercise

      • Every and any physical activity will help your mental well-being! Whether it be a high intensity workout, or a light easy walk outside, exercise is one of the best ways to relieve stress.

  • Make time to unwind and relax.

    • Life can get crazy, but it’s important to remember to take time for you. Find interests and/or hobbies that bring you joy and allow you to take a second the breath. Some healthy suggestions for relaxation could be:

      • Meditation

      • Yoga

      • Painting

      • Reading

  • Connect with others

    • Confide in those you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.

      • Maintaining relationships with others is important. Whether it be during a time of crisis, or simply just a bad day, reach out the individuals in your life who have your best interest at heart. It is okay to need a little help from time to time, we all do.

    • Seek community-based or faith-based organizations

      • Find a community in which you truly feel as though you belong and are valued. May it be a sports organization, church choir, book club, etc... there’s something out there for everyone! Having a sense of connection and community can do wonders for your mental well-being.

Resources for Mental Health

No matter the mental health issues you may be confronting, it's vital to remember that help is always within reach. From professional therapy and counseling services to crisis hotlines offering immediate assistance, online communities fostering peer support, and educational resources provided by community organizations—each avenue is designed to provide guidance and solace. By reaching out and accessing these resources, you can take proactive steps towards understanding, managing, and improving your mental health. Remember, you are not alone, and seeking help is a courageous step towards healing. [8]

  • 988 Suicide & Crisis LifeLine: If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, help is available. Call or text 988 or chat

    • 988 is confidential, free crisis service that is available to everyone 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The Lifeline connects people to the nearest crisis center in the Lifeline national network. These centers provide crisis counseling and mental health referrals.

  • Crisis Text Line

    • Text “HELLO” to 741741
      The Crisis Text hotline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week throughout the U.S. The Crisis Text Line serves anyone, in any type of crisis, connecting them with a crisis counselor who can provide support and information.

  • NAMI HelpLine | NAMI:


  • National Alliance on Mental Illness is a free nationwide peer-support service providing information, resources referrals and support to people living with a mental health condition, their family members and caregivers, mental health providers and the public. HelpLine staff and volunteers are experienced, well-trained, and able to provide guidance.

  • The NAMI HelpLine can be reached Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. – 10 p.m., EST.
    1-800-950-NAMI (6264) or


  • 211 Line (For South Florida Residents):[9]


  • 211 is a community helpline and crisis hotline that provides suicide prevention, crisis intervention, information, assessment, and referral to community services for people of all ages.

    • Areas served: Indian River County, Martin County, Okeechobee County, Palm Beach County, and St. Lucie County


  • To hear more about Mental Health and the relationship with philanthropic entities, check out Kingdom Charitable Trust’s new podcast: Heart on Your Sleeve: Focus on Philanthropy: Empowering Mental Health Advocacy: From Awareness to Action


  • In our inaugural episode, we are joined by Susan Racher, Vice President and CFO of The Wallace H. Coulter Foundation. She is also Chairperson of the Board for the National Alliance on Mental Illness for Miami Dade County and Thriving Mind South Florida. In this episode we discuss the high prevalence of mental illness, factors contributing to it, and ways to improve accessibility through policy changes and community efforts. This conversation addresses barriers to seeking mental health treatment, the need for better support in school, and integrating mental health services into broader programs.

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