Updated: Jan 25
I started volunteering with Hong Fook Mental Health Association nearly three years ago when I was starting high school in grade 9. This was the first time I heard about mental health and mental illness and I quickly learned that the majority of people are not educated on the difference between the two terms. As a result, there is a lot of stigma surrounding topics involving mental health and mental illness. Through this blog post, I hope to educate the readers on the basic differences between mental health and mental illness. I will also be sharing my experiences with mental health and how I coped through my challenges as a youth.
Disclaimer: I am not a mental health professional. If you need help, please reach out to Hong Fook Mental Health Association or another mental health service near you.
Mental health refers to our health and wellbeing on an emotional and psychological level. Just like how our physical health impacts how we function daily, mental health influences how we feel and behave. For example, our mental health can impact a person’s decisions, behaviours, and feelings. Similar to how we need to take care of our bodies (physical health), it is crucial that we do not ignore our mental health as well. Healthy mental health allows us to thrive in life as we can make clearer, better decisions and helps us build the foundations to resiliency to weather the storm of our challenges. Poor mental health leaves us in a negative state, where we are unable to make proper decisions in overwhelming situations. Just like everyone has physical health, everyone has mental health.
Mental illness is a diagnosis like depression, anxiety disorders, and eating disorders. An individual impacted by mental illnesses have invisible barriers that hinder them from being able to function to the best of their ability. However, there are treatments available for mental illness disorders and there are ways we can help. To learn more about mental illness and how to help someone who may be showing signs of a mental illness, you can check out Hong Fook Mental Health Association’s resources.
My Experience With Mental Health
If I had to describe myself in one word, I believe I am an overachiever. I am not ashamed of being an overachiever, as my determination and motivation is what led me to be very successful in my academic studies. However, my constant strive to obtain excellent grades caused me to put immense pressure on myself to strive for an unrealistic level of perfection. This was an isolating experience as I was spending more time facing my laptop and textbooks than with my friends and family. Completing online school in grade 11 because of the pandemic has been the most challenging part of school so far, as it worsened my feelings of isolation. However, what helped me cope through this challenging time was joining clubs and reminding myself to take breaks. When my workload becomes overwhelming, I remind myself to take things one step at a time. Gradually, things will fall into place. Now in grade 12, I am still achieving the same high grades, however, I am much happier and school does not feel as difficult anymore.