World Health Organization (WHO) defines mental health as “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.”

You cannot expect a term with a definition so complex to be easily comprehensible. So naturally, with such a complex term comes a pile of complexities, or in more elaborated vocabulary, the misconceptions related to mental health. Here’s a list a few of them with related facts that have become obscure because of them:

1. Mental illness is a sign of weakness - Just as someone with diabetes could still be physically strong, someone with mental health problems can still be mentally strong. Mental strength is not the same as mental health. Anyone can make choices to build mental strength, regardless of whether they have a mental health issue.

2. Children don't experience mental health problems - Early warning signs of mental health concerns can be seen in very young children as well. Factually, half of all mental health disorders show first signs before a person turns 14 years old, and three quarters of mental health disorders begin before age 24.

3. People with mental illness are violent – People have become very gullible these days, especially by the media. They choose to believe what they’re shown and ignore what stays hidden behind the cameras. And unfortunately, in such an era, the only occasion when the media mentions mental health problems, it's often in regard to a headline about a mass shooting or domestic violence incident. Facts have proven that only around 7.5% of total violent crimes are committed by people with a background of mental illness.

4. You can either be mentally ill or mentally healthy, there is no in between – Just how a physically healthy person may still experience minor health issues, a mentally healthy person may experience an emotional problem or two. Even if someone with a mental illness is doing well, there's a good chance they aren't 100% mentally healthy.

5. Mental health problems are forever - Not all mental health problems are curable, but most mental health problems are treatable. Complete recovery from a variety of mental health issues is often possible.

6. And last but the most important one “I can't do anything for a person with a mental health problem” – The power of human connection is unmatched. Friends and loved ones can make a big difference. If you know someone with mental health problems, you can reach out and let them know you’re available to help.

Issues related to mental health can be dealt with. There are innumerable ways to maintain your mental health. Some of the most basic but effective ways are:

1. Express your feelings regularly – Talking about how you feel makes it easier for you to go through whatever issues you’re facing.

2. Keep in touch - Spend more time with people who matter to you. Maintain your social connections and go out often.

3. Ask for help whenever required – None of us are superhuman and everyone reaches a point where they require help. 

4. Enjoy your hobbies – Doing things you can absolutely lose yourself in will not just keep you generally occupied, but will keep you occupied with doing something you love to do.

5. Practice gratitude and self-care – Being kind to others and, more importantly, yourself is something that is very much needed in order to overcome the issues.

6. Accept who you are – Everyone is different in their own way. It’s much healthier to accept the manner in which you’re different than to wish you were different in the manner someone else is. This will boost your self-esteem.

Mental health is a journey full of ups and downs with the hope of a beautifully blissful destination. The hope doesn’t come easy, but if you keep pushing through the obstacles, the destination definitely arrives.

Love and light,
Rubleen Kaur 

PS - I was planning to start this piece with some celebrity's inspiring true story of overcoming mental health problems. But then I realized there are innumerable celebrities that fall under the aforementioned category. And there are even more innumerable common people who fall under that category and are not given the credit they deserve just because their story isn’t heard. And if you're one of them, hats off to you!