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How widespread are mental health issues?

Article outlining the difficulties faced by experts in defining mental illness.
© Coventry University. CC BY-NC 4.0

How we define mental illness is important as this is how we categorise individuals.

We often talk about ‘mental health’ when we are in fact referring to ‘mental ill health’ and ‘mental health problems’ as though they are all the same thing. Actually they cover a vast spectrum from minor worries, sadness and grief that we have all experienced at some point in our lives to suicidal depression and a complete loss of touch with reality (Gofal 2018).

Mental health problems are influenced by a multitude of factors including;

  • Our genes
  • Stress
  • The environment
  • The social situation that we live in
  • Nutrition
  • Our physical health (Gofal 2018)

We are all at risk of developing mental health issues within our lives but fortunately the vast majority who do experience them recover or learn to manage their mental health problems and still lead meaningful and fulfilling lives.

Mental health problems affect around one in four people every year (Mind 2018). It has been reported that around 20% of the world’s children and adolescents have mental health problems or disorders (WHO 2014). Mental health problems range from common problems, such as anxiety and depression to more unusual problems such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder (Mind 2018).


Gofal (2018) ‘What is Mental Health?’ [Online] available from [12th November 2018]

Mind (2018) ‘What are Mental Health Problems?’ [Online] available from [12th November 2018]

WHO (2014) ‘10 Facts on Mental Health’ [Online] available from [12th November 2018]

© Coventry University. CC BY-NC 4.0
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Defining Mental Health: A Short Introduction

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