Grundy County Health Department welcomes you to the Youth Mental Health blog, a site devoted to addressing a variety of mental health and developmental topics specific to young people. Our goal here is to bring psychology and mental health into the “mainstream”, so to speak, and take time to share information on current topics in mental health, treatment, and sometimes, just to reflect on what it means to be human and living in our modern society.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), one in five adolescents ages 13-18 live with a mental health condition. That’s 20%.  Think about that for a moment.  If you know or interact with five adolescents, if you’re an adolescent hanging out with a group of friends, it is statistically possible that one of those people, someone just within arm’s reach of you, may be struggling with a mental health condition.

How do we even begin to define mental health? How do we gain an understanding of what mental health so that we can then gain an understanding of what it means to have a mental health condition?

Mental health. Torn pieces of paper with the words Mental health. Concept Image. Black and White. Closeup.

When I ask people what they think about mental health, I often hear responses that include descriptions of mental health disorders—things like anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia (we’ll be discussing those in later posts!)—and while those answers aren’t necessarily incorrect, the labeling of the disorder sometimes overshadows the actual person experiencing the challenge.

If you think about it, we all have mental health, just like we all have physical health. Physical health is the general wellness of our bodies, whereas we can consider mental health as referring to our psychological and emotional well-being.

Both types of health play important roles in our ability to function on a daily basis and any disruption in either area can lead to struggles with work or school, challenges carrying out daily activities, and challenges in having satisfying relationships. And just like physical health can always be improved, so can mental health.

We hope you’ll join us in our efforts to get people talking about mental health and we welcome your thoughts, feedback, and stories.

What does mental health mean to you? Feel free to share in the comments!