What is Mental Health?

The World Health Organization’s definition of health is "a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” The definition of mental health is a complex and challenging one, but should incorporate our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. According to the Mental Health group of the US Department of Health & Human Services it “affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.”

There still is a lot of stigma associated with mental health and I thought it would perhaps be good to address some of the myths and facts associated with mental health in this blog. 


  • Mental illness is not real. We still must learn more about mental illness; it develops not as a result of being lazy or due to a spiritual or emotional or physical weakness. It is a real medical condition. 
  • Suicide is not such a big issue. This is untrue – one person dies every 40 seconds due to suicide. The focus of the 2019 World Mental Health Day is on what can be done to prevent suicide. According to the World Health Organization, about 800,000 people a year die due to suicide, and for each one successful suicide, there are 20 suicide attempts.  
  • The workplace has no role to play in addressing mental health. This is incorrect. Working is good for mental health, but a negative environment can cause significant stress, which can lead to the development of mental illness. As a result, more and more organizations are developing workplace mental health programs. 
  • Why bother with medication? It is not working in any case. The effective treatment of mental illness often requires a multi-disciplinary approach, with medication, psychotherapy and other therapies. A good support system is essential in helping a person with mental health problems.
  • “It is not my job to fix others.” We should collectively address the challenge that mental illness presents. It is not just the responsibility of health care professionals.   


  • We need to be equipped ourselves with solid knowledge on mental health. Glenn Close said, “What mental health needs is more sunlight, more candor, more unashamed conversation.”
  • Mental health is a leading cause of disability. The WHO estimates that 264 million people suffer from depression, one of the leading causes of disability in the workplace.   
  • Children do experience mental health problems. US data shows that more than half of all mental health disorders manifest at an age younger than 14, and that three quarters of mental health disorders begin before age 24.
  • Access to treatment plays a significant role in the management of mental health problems. Health systems in many countries do not have the best response in place for the support of mental health problems, and this is even more pronounced in low- and middle-income countries, where 76–85% of people with mental disorders will receive no treatment vs 35–50% in higher-income countries. 

The WHO's response to this was the development of a Mental Health Gap Action Programme (mhGAP), which was launched in 2008:

  • more effective leadership and governance for mental health;
  • the provision of comprehensive, integrated mental health and social care services in community-based settings;
  • the implementation of strategies for promotion and prevention;
  • strengthened information systems, evidence and research.

The above approach fits well with UN Sustainable Development Goal 3 “Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.”   

 Khalil Gibran said:

Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls, the most massive characters are seared with scars.” 


Call to Action: Consider sharing the blog with your club members via email, or your social media channels. 

  • Create a discussion group addressing Mental Health during October.
  • Consider the possibility of a mental health group in your location to address your Club on the topic.
  • Become more informed on the topic of mental health.  





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