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Blog » What is a Mental Health Condition?

What is a Mental Health Condition?

Published on 29th Mar 2016
Encompass Blog and Updates

Despite dramatic budget cuts of recent years alluding to mental health illnesses not being a serious issue, in reality, more and more people are being subjected to disorders such as depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and more.

As many as 450 million people are currently affected across the world and there are more than 200 officially recognised mental health conditions which can be encountered.

What are they?

A mental health condition (sometimes known as a mental health disorder or mental health illness) is characterised by an individual having markedly abnormal mental or behavioural activity which has developed to the extent where it has real world implications in their life.

These conditions are complex and can entail the onset of a variety of symptoms, many of which can often exist in parallel with one another.

In addition, people can experience temporary, extended or permanent mental illnesses with varying severity, meaning they are often unpredictable in nature.

Depression is the most common mental illness in the world and can often affect individuals for relatively short periods of time due to the environmental factors such as stress and other significant emotional changes which are now common occurrences in modern society.


Whilst the causes of many mental health conditions are still largely unknown, there are often environmental factors which can play a large part in their onset and progression.

Anxiety disorder can be instigated from bullying, abuse or neglect in the early years of childhood; however, it can also develop in a person’s later life through changes in social behaviour or even substance abuse.

Much like physical health issues, many mental disorders can also be hereditary. For instance, autism ADHD and bipolar disorder are all examples of illnesses which have common genetic symptoms and are more likely to develop in people with a family history if the illness.

Extreme lifestyles can have a similar effect on a person’s mental wellbeing with extended social isolation and prolonged substance abuse being major factors in the onset of anxiety, schizophrenia and other conditions.

Are you affected?

It’s important for everyone to understand the symptoms of common mental health illnesses as this will not only help to reduce the associated stigma but it will also make it easier to identify whether you or someone you know may be at risk.

For instance, if you feel your mood has been abnormally low for several weeks or you are having issues with your sleeping patterns, there is a chance you may be suffering from depression or anxiety disorder.

Depression is a strong example of how certain conditions can be present in a person’s life without them necessarily being aware of it as there are many symptoms which may go unseen. These include (but are not limited to) changes in appetite or becoming increasingly irritable.

If you are unsure, speak to your doctor as they will be able to either professionally assess your symptoms or refer you to a specialist who can provide you with more information.


After researching symptoms of various disorders, you may feel your current situation aligns with one or more of these and that you are now looking to make improvements to your life.

Just as environmental factors can lead to the development of mental illnesses, making changes in one’s life can also cause significant improvements in wellbeing.

For people suffering from anxiety, focusing on self-development, social skills and appearance are all ways of improving self-confidence and this can often reduce anxiety as well.

Encompass provide a wide range of care services and help improve the lives of people living with mental health illnesses or learning disabilities on a daily basis.