Want to keep learning?

This content is taken from the University of Groningen, University of Cambridge & University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG)'s online course, Young People and Their Mental Health. Join the course to learn more.

Skip to 0 minutes and 9 seconds LIZANNE SCHWEREN: Mental health problems come in all shapes and sizes. Oftentimes, when we think about mental health problems, we think about depression and anxiety. However, there are many other mental health problems, as well. Each of these problems, in turn, consist of many different symptoms, which you can have to a greater or lesser extent. As with the flu, that can make you feel a little bit ill or very ill, you can experience mental health problems to a lesser or greater extent. It’s not all or nothing. Sadness, anxiety, and anger are normal feelings that we all experience every now and then. However, for some people, these feelings are so intense, or they last so long, that it causes problems.

Skip to 0 minutes and 50 seconds For example, they may no longer be able to make their schoolwork or hang out with their friends. In that case, we call it a disorder. Another word we often use is diagnosis.

Skip to 1 minute and 3 seconds Even for mental health professionals, it can be quite difficult to define the border between health and disease, or to determine which disorder someone suffers from. To clarify what we mean when we say someone is depressed or has an anxiety disorder, for instance, a group of mental health experts have written down a set of definitions. These definitions also help clinicians to determine which help is most suitable. This is the DSM, a manual in which the definitions of and agreements about mental health disorders are written. These agreements are not set in stone. Ideas about what’s normal and abnormal can change over time. This is why the manual is continuously updated into newer versions.

Skip to 1 minute and 44 seconds Homosexuality, for instance, was once called a disorder in an early version of the manual. But nowadays, it is not. There are cultural differences, as well, when it comes to defining what is a disorder and what is not. In some countries, people believe that evil spirits can bewitch someone or take control over someone’s body to do bad things. In the Western culture, these ideas are not considered normal, and people who believe such ideas might be diagnosed as psychotic. Thus, whether something is called a disorder is a matter of agreement. But actually, it’s not all that important whether something is called a disorder, according to the official rules. In the end, it is about people and how to help them.

Mental health problems come in all shapes and sizes

In this video Lizanne Schweren explains that there are different kinds of mental health problems and that you can suffer from those to smaller and larger degrees.

Just like with good mental health, the term mental health problems is not easy to describe. This is because there are many different mental health problems that each consist of different complaints (also called symptoms). There is also a difference to what degree you can suffer from such problems.

Two things all mental health problems have in common:

  1. they have to do with thoughts and feelings

  2. it bothers you in your daily life.

These problems can cause you to do things less well, such as your school work. Mental health problems can also prevent you from doing things that you like and disrupt relationships with your family members and friends. When your thoughts and feelings lead to these kinds of negative consequences, we call these mental health problems.

Share this video:

This video is from the free online course:

Young People and Their Mental Health

University of Groningen

Get a taste of this course

Find out what this course is like by previewing some of the course steps before you join: