A mental illness is something that affects our mental health, just like a broken leg affects our physical health. It can be useful to think of mental health in terms of a continuum or scale. At one extreme would be positive wellbeing, which is a state of active good emotional health rather than simply not having a mental illness. At the other end would be “serious and enduring” mental health problems. It is important to recognise that everyone is somewhere on this scale at any point in time, and that most people will fluctuate between different positions. Even people with “serious” mental health conditions can have long periods of being well.
Mental Health is a state of emotional well-being that allows us to enjoy life and cope with its challenges. In a nutshell, we are able to get on and do the things we want to do.
Most of us experience changes in our mental health from time to time, for example if we are having a stressful time in work our mood may become low for a period. However, for some people these changes may become prolonged and can cause a considerable disturbance to their everyday life. This is the point at which a mental health illness may be diagnosed.
A mental health issue does not necessarily have to be what people might consider “severe” in order for it to hinder a persons recovery from addiction.