Mental health means our psychological, social and emotional well-being. It includes how we feel, think and act. Mental health also relates to the strength of a mind to handle stress, make decisions and react towards particular situations. Sound mental health is very important at every stage of life, from birth to adulthood.
If a person experiences mental health problems, his behavior, thinking, mood and relations could be affected. Several factors lead to mental health problems, including:
- Biological factors, such as genetic problems
- Life events, such as shock or trauma
- Family history of mental health problems
Mental health problem is a serious condition but treatment is available in the form of medication and therapies. Such people get better with time and some recover completely.
Early signs of mental health
- Feeling very low energy or having no energy
- Very less or zero interaction with people
- Having pain and aches
- Eating too little or too much
- Acting like nothing matters
- Drinking and smoking more than usual
- Using drugs
- Sleeping too little or too much
- Fighting with friend and family
- Having no or weak relationships
- Overthinking about a particular incident or event
- Having thoughts about something that is not true
- Harming yourself or others
- Avoiding to go in crowds
Relationship between society and mental health
It is generally agreed that social relations play an important role in the maintenance of psychological and mental well-being. The bond between social isolation and psychological well-being is well explained in psychology. A small social network, less close relationships, and not limited social support have been linked to causing depressive symptoms. Two models explain the mechanism through which social relationships and ties influence mental health outcomes.
- Main Effect Model
- Stress-Buffering Model
The stress-buffering model tells that social relationships and ties are related to well-being only for stressed persons, whereas the main effect model social relationships have a positive effect regardless of whether a person is under stress or not. These two models are not mutually exclusive; rather they might help explain the effect of particular aspects of social ties on mental health. It has been explained that the structural features of social relationships (social networks, social integration) may operate through main effects, whereas functional features of social relationships (perceived support) operate through a stress-buffering mechanism. For instance, the perceived availability of functional support is believed to buffer the effects of stress by increasing an individual’s coping abilities. On the other hand, the degree of integration in a social network is suggested to have a direct effect on well-being regardless of the presence of stressful circumstances.
Main Effect Model
The main effect model explains many pathways in which participation in social networks can affect mental well-being. Social influence refers to the way members of a social network gain normative guidance about health-related behaviors, such as physical activity or cigarette smoking. Behaviors like daily exercise may apply a beneficial influence on psychological health. (We should not forget, of course, that norms within some networks might encourage smoking and sedentary behavior!). Integration in a social network may also directly produce positive mental states, including belonging, security, and sense of purpose and recognition of self-worth. These positive psychological states, in turn, may benefit mental health because of enhanced motivation for self-care (e.g., regular exercise, moderation of alcohol intake), as well as the modulation of the neuroendocrine response to stress. Finally, location in the broader social structure (e.g., participation in community organizations, involvement in social networks, and immersion in intimate relationships) increases the likelihood of evaluating various types of support, which in turn protect against distress. Examples of such resources include access to health-relevant information or receipt of informal health care that could check a minor ailment from turning into a more serious psychiatric disorder. It is also crucial to recognize that many life events traditionally conceptualized are breaks in social ties (e.g., divorce, deaths of loved ones, etc.). Other times, social networks may influence the odds of experiencing a life event (e.g., unemployment).
In the stress-buffering model social support is believed to avert or modulate responses to stressful events that are harmful to health. Support may thus act on several different points in the pathway between stressful events and eventual psychological illness. First, the perceived availability of social support in the face of a stressful event may lead to a warmer appraisal of the situation, thereby averting a stream of ensuing negative emotional and behavioral responses. Further downstream, perceived or received support may either reduce the negative emotional reaction to a stressful event or reduce the physiologic/behavioral responses to stress. For instance, in studies of cardiovascular reactivity in which subjects are given a challenge related to public speaking, the availability of support (not provided) reduces cardiovascular reactivity.
To conclude, the relation between social ties and mental health is securely established. Work remains to be carried out, however, in explaining the mechanisms by which particular aspects of ties lead to the maintenance or improvement of psychological wellbeing—and hence, refining the approach to effective intervention. At the same time, research and interventions on social ties must take the greater realization of the positioning of personal networks in the broader social structure.