What is Mental Health?

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines mental health as “a state of mental well-being that enables people to cope with the stresses of life, realize their abilities, learn well and work well, and contribute to their community.”

This definition shows that good mental health is measured not just by the absence of mental health disorders, but also by a person’s ability to effectively manage life’s problems and live a fulfilling life, both as an individual and as a part of their community.

Several factors may interact at the individual and social levels throughout our lives to either safeguard or undermine our mental health.

Individual differences in genetic makeup, emotional intelligence, and other factors can make one person more sensitive to mental health problems than another.

At the social level, persons are more likely to develop mental health problems if they are exposed to circumstances such as poverty, violence, prejudice, inequality, and environmental hardship.

These dangers to mental health can and do express themselves at all phases of life, beginning with the sensitive developmental stages of childhood and continuing into maturity.

What Is the Difference Between Good and Bad Mental Health?

While good mental health includes a person’s ability to effectively manage life’s challenges and live productively at both the personal and community levels, ‘poor mental health,’ on the other hand, is an individual’s inability to properly cope with life’s challenges, such that cracks begin to appear in one’s life.

When a person perceives that the demands placed on him or her surpass his or her resources or coping abilities, his or her mental health may suffer.

In such cases, a person may find themselves thinking, feeling, or behaving in ways that are unhelpful or cause severe discomfort or sorrow in their lives. This person may be considered to have bad or poor mental health.

When a mental health condition is not effectively controlled and becomes prolonged, chronic, and frequent to the point of hampering one’s ability to function normally, such as maintaining personal or family relationships, functioning in social settings, performing work or school tasks, or participating in other important activities, it may have progressed to a mental health disorder that will necessitate medical care.


What Are the Effects of Poor Mental Health?

Poor mental health can have a detrimental impact on both your mind and body.

This can result in a variety of mental and physical health problems ranging from minor to severe.

Fatigue, stomach aches, unexplained bodily aches and pains, headaches and migraines, asthma, diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and arthritis are all examples of physical health issues. 

When current signs and symptoms cause regular stress and impair your capacity to operate on a daily basis, a mental health problem is said to have advanced into a mental illness.

Mental health illnesses that can develop range from more frequent illnesses like depression, anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, addictive behaviors like alcohol and drug misuse, and eating disorders to rarer disorders like schizophrenia, bipolar, and other personality disorders.

Finally, dealing with a chronic illness can be made more difficult by mental health issues.


What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Poor Mental Health?

When assessing the signs and symptoms of poor mental health, we pay attention to changes in behavior that differ from what is ‘normal’ for that individual. For example, a person who is generally cheerful and enjoys outside activities may lose their spark and lose interest in being outside.

There are various common telltale signs and symptoms that someone may be suffering from mental health issues, but because each person is unique, each situation must be treated as such.

Every action is a kind of communication, and every action eventually reflects what a person thinks and feels. It is no different when someone has poor mental health; their behaviors will suggest an underlying issue, and changing their behavior will be incredibly difficult until the underlying issue is healed.

The list of signs and symptoms below is by no means exhaustive, nor is it designed to aid you in making a mental health problem diagnosis. Their objective is to notify you when there is a valid reason to be concerned and to refer you to a medical expert.


  • Feelings of sadness
  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Feelings of guilt



  • Unable to cope with everyday people challenges
  • Anger outbursts over trivial problems
  • Extreme mood fluctuations of highs and lows
  • Loss of interest in the typical activities once loved
  • Major changes in sleep patterns (sleeping excessively or sleeplessness)
  • Isolation from family and friends
  • Significant changes in eating habits Significant changes in sex drive



  • Poor personal hygiene
  • Unexplained medical symptoms (such as headaches, migraines, stomach discomfort, or bodily aches)
  • Restlessness
  • Weight loss or increase
  • Overeating or undereating
  • Alcohol or substance misuse
  • Suicidal attempts



  • Confused thinking
  • Frequent or recurring thoughts of dying
  • Suicidal thoughts

What Should I Do If I Detect Any of These Signs or Symptoms?

Many people are still unaware of mental health illnesses and, as a result, may believe their signs and symptoms to be a normal part of life.

Others may be unwilling to disclose their condition and seek help because they are afraid of the social stigma associated with mental health disorders or are ashamed of their illnesses. Many persons who have a mental health problem face stigma and discrimination.

If you are concerned about your mental health, or if your sense of well-being is declining, and your symptoms do not appear to be going away after roughly two weeks, it is advisable to seek help.

Don’t wait for your symptoms to intensify before concluding that anything is wrong or that you require care.  Make an appointment with your primary care physician or a psychiatrist, psychologist, or other mental health expert.

They will be able to identify your issue and work with you to develop an appropriate treatment plan for both the short and long term.  

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At HFH, we genuinely care for our patients and we strive to leave them better than we met them.

Meet our director

Dr. Charlotte Nwigwe is an MBBS degree holder from the University of Benin and a fellow of the National Postgraduate Medical College in Psychiatry.

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