Our moods are enduring states of feelings that colour our psychological lives. When we are in a good mood many of the insults of daily lives roll off our backs, however, when we are depressed, even delightful events may do little to cheer us. While on average this statement is true, most people do experience more than a few lows throughout their life.  Misunderstandings and stigma surrounding mental health are widespread.  According to the World Health Organization (WHO) “Mental Health is defined as a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work efficiently and productively, and is able to make a contribution to his or her own community.  It is “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease”.  Ref: (www.

On the other hand “mental illness is described as a recognizable medically diagnosable illness that results in the significant impairment of an individual’s cognitive, affective or relational abilities”. (World Health Organization 2016) Although the terms are often used interchangeably, “mental health and mental illness is not the same thing”; REF: ( however, they are not mutually exclusive.  Mental illness is extremely prevalent in Canada and around the world. (World Health Organization 2016)  However, research on mental illness is evolving.  As time passes, more mental illnesses are being uncovered and diagnosed.  Some of the more common and well researched mental illnesses by category of illness include:

Mood disorders (affective disorders): Depression, mania and bipolar

Anxiety disorders: Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder

Psychotic disorders: schizophrenia

Concurrent disorders: addictions and substance abuse

Personality disorders: antisocial personality disorder, obsessive-compulsive personality disorder Ref: (CMHA -“Stress Fact Sheet” (1993).

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