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.

دکتر خانم و یک مریض سر یک میز

Understanding mental health will help you know what to do if you or someone you know has mental health needs. Knowing the need for healthy immigrant mental health is important. Immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers may have different needs related to their migration experience.

Since Americans feel mental health is part of overall health, they look for ways to get better. They are not embarrassed to talk about it.

As with physical illnesses, many mental needs are not serious. Like physical illness, some mental needs may become serious. They can cause terrible suffering.

What is mental health?

Mental health is being able to function and take part in daily activities that result in:

  • Productive daily activities like going to work, school, or caring for others
  • Healthy relationships with your family and friends
  • Being able to adapt to change and cope with difficult situations

Mental health is a state of well-being. You can:

  • know your abilities,
  • cope with normal stresses of life,
  • work productively, and
  • contribute to your community.

Wellness for immigrant mental health can be determined by factors that include socioeconomic, biological, and environmental.

Mental health is fundamental to our collective and individual ability as humans to:

  • think
  • show emotion
  • interact with others
  • earn a living
  • enjoy life

Wellness in immigrant mental health

It is normal to feel stress and anxiety in your life. What is not normal is for these feels to take over your life for a long period. 

There can be many things that have an impact on your mental wellness. They can be:

  • A stressful time at your job or in your life at home
  • A difficult time in your life
  • Biological – how hormones and chemicals are acting in your brain and your family history of mental health
  • Environmental – how safe and secure you fell
  • Physical – a traumatic brain injury
  • Experiential – the experience of living a traumatic event in your life 

Over some time, someone who has mental health needs will develop symptoms. The most common symptoms are:

  • Sadness
  • Fear
  • Anger
  • Confusion
  • Unusual behavior

While symptoms are feelings and behaviors caused by mental health needs, a disorder means something that not working. 

There are many different mental disorders and many different symptoms. With serious mental health disorders, all of the common symptoms are stronger. People are not able to carry on with everyday life.

What are mental health needs?

To understand mental health needs, here are some examples of what someone may experience:

  • Feelings of sadness, tearfulness, emptiness, or hopelessness
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in most or all normal activities
  • Unable to sleep
  • Tiredness and lack of energy
  • Reduced appetite and weight loss or increased cravings for food and weight gain
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt, fixating on past failures or self-blame
  • Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions, and remembering things
  • Frequent or recurrent thoughts of death, suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts, or suicide
  • Unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches

You can learn more about mental health needs on the Mayo Clinic website. 

To explain more about illnesses and disorders here is a list:


Many people may experience mild depression. Mild depression is when you feel sad or you do not feel like doing anything. If this lasts for more than two weeks, you may have major depression.

Post-traumatic stress disorder

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is called PTSD for short. PTSD is a natural emotional reaction to a terrible or stressful event.

Generalized anxiety disorder

Generalized Anxiety Disorder is stronger than normal anxiety. Everyone is anxious sometimes. But anxiety becomes a disorder when it happens almost all the time.


Schizophrenia is a serious mental illness. It affects the way you see the world and the way you behave. 

Adjustment disorder

Adjustment disorder happens when people do not recover from a big change or difficult experience. Doctors often find refugees and immigrants who have an adjustment disorder.

Bipolar disorder

Someone with bipolar disorder shows extreme mood swings. Extreme mood swings are when you go from feeling very sad to feeling very happy to the point of being manic.

Eating disorders

Eating disorders happen when you have problems with eating because of your attitude toward food, eating, and your body shape. You may eat too much or too little and go through extreme weight changes. With eating disorders, like substance use, you can demonstrate compulsive use or behavior, loss of control, and continuing behavior despite negative consequences.

Substance use

Substance use is when you drink too much alcohol or take too many drugs. Your use of drugs and alcohol hurts your body and affects your life in bad ways.

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