What is mental health?

Mental health affects the way you think, feel, and act. Learn about immigrant mental health. It is helpful to know the signs of common mental health problems so you can get the support you or your loved one needs.

په اساس دي اکتوبر 10, 2023

Mental health 

Mental health is your emotional, mental, and social well-being. It impacts the way you think, feel, and act. It also affects your physical health. Your mental health is just as important as physical health.

Your mental health affects your ability to function and take part in daily activities such as:

  • Going to school or work 
  • Taking care of yourself and others
  • Spending time with your family and friends 

Many factors can affect your mental health:

  • Family history 
  • Biological factors
  • Chemical imbalances
  • Alcohol and drugs
  • Medical conditions 
  • Life experiences
  • Trauma or abuse 
  • Loneliness or isolation

Understanding your mental health will help you know what to do if you or someone you know has a mental health problem. Everyone experiences mental health differently. 

Mental illness 

Mental illness or disorder is a health condition that affects your ability to function and take part in daily activities. This includes school, work, and social activities. Mental health problems can be mild or severe and change over time. 

Mental illnesses are common health conditions in the USA. 1 in 5 adults in the USA have a mental illness at some point in their lives (NIMH). It is normal to have mental health problems at some point in your life. Having a mental health problem does not mean you are crazy or disabled. Do not be embarrassed or ashamed about talking about your mental health and getting help.

Learn about common signs and options for treatment to get the support you need. 

Common signs 


Common signs and symptoms of mental health problems include: 

  • Feeling sad or numb or hopeless
  • Feeling scared, worried, or angry
  • Loss of interest in social activities 
  • Unable to perform daily tasks 
  • Having little or no energy
  • Eating too much or too little
  • Changes in weight 
  • Trouble concentrating 
  • Thoughts of self-harm

It is normal to experience some of these symptoms from time to time. It becomes more serious when they continue to happen for a long time and you do not feel better.  

Immigrant mental health 

Many immigrants have certain experiences that affect their mental health. Some immigrants faced violence and torture that forced them to leave their home. Others may have faced abuse or detention while traveling to a new country. They may have a hard time finding resources and support in their community. All these factors can lead to mental illness. 

Common mental health illnesses


Many people may experience mild depression. Mild depression is when someone feels sad or does not feel like doing anything. Major depression lasts for more than two weeks. Learn more about depression. 

Post-traumatic stress disorder

Trauma Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is called PTSD for short. PTSD is a natural emotional response to a terrible, shocking, or stressful event. Learn more about PTSD.

Anxiety disorders

Everyone feels anxious sometimes, but anxiety becomes a disorder when it happens almost all the time. Anxiety disorders happen when someone has constant anxiety or dread for months and years. 

Adjustment disorder

Adjustment disorder happens when people have a hard time coping after a stressful change or event. Some refugees and immigrants experience culture shock after moving to a new country. Over time, as people adjust to the new culture, they feel more comfortable in their new home.

Bipolar disorder

Bipolar disorder is when someone has unusual changes in their mood and energy. People may have extremely up (or manic) or very down (depressive) episodes.


Schizophrenia is a serious mental illness. It affects the way someone thinks, feels, and behaves. It can change someone’s sense of reality.

Eating disorders

Eating disorders happen when someone has serious problems with eating because of their attitude toward food, eating, and body shape. They may eat too much or too little and go through extreme weight changes. 

Substance use disorder

Substance abuse disorder is when someone is unable to control their use of alcohol, drugs, and medications. Substance use disorder is when someone drinks too much alcohol or takes too many drugs. 

Watch these videos about common mental health conditions to learn more.

Find help

It is important to talk to someone if you feel like you are experiencing a mental health problem. It is okay to reach out for help when you are struggling. There is no shame in reaching out for support. 

Start by talking to a trusted family member or friend. Share how you are feeling and what type of support you need. 

If your symptoms are not improving or getting worse, it is important to seek professional help. Mental health providers can help you get treatment such as therapy and medication.

Visit our page on mental health resources for immigrants and refugees for help finding treatment and support. 

If you are in emotional distress or have thoughts of harming yourself, call or text 988 to talk to a trained crisis worker. 

If you are in immediate danger, call 911 for emergency assistance. 

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