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Mental Health is a Lifelong Journey

Mental health can have a significant and long-term impact on one's life. Mental health is not only about mental illness but also the general health of one's mind, thus being something people should take care of throughout their whole life.

According to the World Health Organisation, mental health is a state of mental well-being that allows people to cope with the stresses of life, realize their abilities, learn and work well, and contribute to their community. It is an integral component of health and well-being that is crucial to personal, community, and socioeconomic development. It is therefore important for one to maintain a healthy and stable mental state. Since childhood, early experiences and environments have shaped the foundations of sound mental health. During adolescence, exposure to adversity, pressure to conform with peers, and exploration of identity may become some of the factors that affect mental health. As children step into adolescence, media influence and gender norms may affect their perceptions or aspirations for the future. Those exposures may reshape their values and the quality of their home life and relationships with peers may thus be affected, leading to mental health issues like depression and anxiety. When people reach adulthood, they are more likely to face various sources of stress, such as the death of important ones in life, problems in family relationships, job loss, and financial issues, and all these may trigger or aggravate some mental disorders in some people. Of course, not all people will suffer from mental disorders because of those stress sources, but there is no doubt that these stress sources put pressure on people and hinder their mental health development. Arriving at the elderly stage, a significant decline in functional ability like reduced mobility, chronic pain, frailty, or other health problems, events such as bereavement, or a drop in socioeconomic status with retirement may result in isolation, loneliness, or psychological distress in older people, causing mental health issues. Every life stage is different, and it is critical to maintain mental health in every stage, that is, to see mental health as a lifelong journey.

If psychological health is ignored, it may lead to mental illnesses which have long-term effects on various aspects of a person's life. Common mental illnesses including depression, anxiety, and post- traumatic stress disorder have lots of debilitating symptoms, and some people may suffer from the symptoms for a great fraction of their lives. Worse still, if the illnesses are left unaddressed, long-term issues may develop. Relationship problems like conflicts with family and friends, social isolation, poor work performance, or withdrawal from society may occur due to mental health disorders, and physical health problems like chronic physical conditions, weakened immune system and unhealthy habits substance abuse may arise. According to statistics, between 30 and 70 percent of suicide victims suffer from major depression such as mental disorders, and half of the people with mental issues develop substance use disorder in the U.S., and these show the long-lasting and detrimental effects of mental disorders. This proves the importance of taking care of our mental health at every life stage.

To maintain desirable mental health status, it is critical to seek help from professionals when needed. Mental health problems are often undetected, early intervention and professional assistance can help attain a positive and fulfilling life. Besides, regular exercise, socializing and relaxation may help reduce pressure and build a healthy body, which contributes to an energetic and healthy mental environment.

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