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Mental health is defined as a state of emotional and psychological well-being in which an individual is able to use his or her cognitive and emotional capabilities, function in society, cope with the ordinary demands of everyday life.

Researchers suggest that there are indicators of mental health, representing three domains.  These include the following:

  • Emotional well-being - such as perceived life satisfaction, happiness, cheerfulness, peacefulness.
  • Psychological well-being - such as self-acceptance, personal growth including openness to new experiences, optimism, hopefulness, purpose in life, control of one's environment, spirituality, self-direction, and positive relationships.
  • Social well-being - social acceptance, beliefs in the potential of people and society as a whole, personal self-worth and usefulness to society, sense community.

Mental Illness

A mental illness, also called a mental disorder, is a medical condition that disrupts a person's thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to others and daily functioning. Just as diabetes is a disorder of the pancreas, mental illnesses are medical conditions that often result in a diminished capacity for coping with the ordinary demands of life.


Mental illness is caused by social, psychological, biochemical, genetic, or other factors, such as infection or head trauma.


The burdens of mental illnesses, such as depression, alcohol dependence and schizophrenia, have been seriously underestimated by traditional approaches that take account only of deaths and not disability. While psychiatric conditions are responsible for little more than one percent of deaths, they account for almost 11 percent of disease burden worldwide.