What is Mental Health?

Mental Health is being talked about more now than ever. 

With the fact that 1 in 5 people will struggle with their mental health each year. It’s a good thing that mental health is finding its way to the spotlight.

This statistic isn’t to say the same 1 in 5 people will always represent this demographic either. Mental Health conditions change continuously as our health and life changes. Almost everyone will likely experience mental health issues at some time or another in their life.

But what exactly is mental health? How is it different from mental illness?

Keep reading for that answer and more!

What is Mental Health?

What is Mental Health?

What most people associate mental health with are things like depression, anxiety, anger, PTSD. While these are mental health conditions related to mental illnesses, that’s not all mental health is. 

If you think of what we think of when we consider our health in general, we think of our body, how healthy it is, nutrition, and the thought of maintaining a healthy body to avoid health problems or illness. Well, Mental Health is the same thing, but with our brains. Mental health refers to the overall condition. A person can be in good mental health, be experiencing mental health problems, or have a mental illness. 

What is the difference between Mental Health and Mental Illness?

While they are often talked about together, there is a difference between the two. 

Mental Health can be described as how you feel and function in everyday life. Mental illness refers to any number of mental health conditions or diagnosable disorders that impact a person’s overall mental health.

Many things can impact a person’s mental health, and not everyone who will struggle with mental health has a mental illness. A person’s mental health can be affected by your overall health, social factors, upbringing, experiences they might have had, genetics, nutrition, and any number of things. Not every mental health problem is related to a mental illness. 

Mental illness refers to various mental heal conditions and diagnosable mental disorders, all of which impact your overall Mental Health. Mental Health is our foundation for processing our emotions, how we process, how we feel about ourselves and others, and overall how we are functioning in day-to-day life.

Symptoms of Mental Health Problems 

The World Health Organization WHO defines mental health as :

“Mental health is a state of well-being in which an individual realizes his or her abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively, and can make a contribution to his or her community.”

Mental Health Disorders 

There are common types of mental illness disorders. Mental illness disorders usually affect a person for much of their life and often can require medication and therapy to help the individual cope or recover.

The two most common types of mental health disorders are Mood disorders and Anxiety disorders.

Anxiety Disorders 

Anxiety is one of the most common mental illnesses and can stem from various mental health conditions or illnesses. Many people experience anxiety when struggling with their mental health. Some can be prolonged mental illnesses, such as a person who has always suffered with OCD their whole lives for example, where as some disorders can be brought on later on in life by triggering events and experiences such as PTSD.

Common Anxiety Disorders

Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Panic Disorders 
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder OCD 
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder PTSD

Mood Disorders

Mood disorders affect a person’s overall mood and can significantly impact their overall mental wellness. People affected by mood disorders experience significant changes to their mood, often accompanied by periods of mania, depression, or both.

Common Mood Disorders

Bi Polar Disorder
Seasonal Affective Disorder

Mental Health and Mental Illnesses vary, and symptoms a person experiences can change as well. While mental illnesses will include their own unique set of symptoms, often starting with anxiety, depression, or suicidal thoughts, there are many more indicators that your mental health is suffering than that. 

Signs of Mental Health Problems

Here are some common indicators of mental illness or mental health struggles;

Experiencing depression 
Changes to the overall behavior and mood
Overeating/not eating enough
Changing to sleep such as inability to fall asleep or sleeping too much
Feeling hopeless 
Low self-esteem or low self-worth, limited self-potential
Withdrawing from social activities or socail media
Loss/lack of Ambition
Difficulty or inability to carry out daily activities such as work, cooking, cleaning etc.

The above are some common behavioral changes that may indicate a struggle with mental health or mental illness. It is essential to understand that Mental Health will be different from person to person, and mental health conditions will present differently from case to case. 

What should you do if you think you are struggling with mental health?

If you or someone you know might be experiencing mental health problems, what should you do? 

If you have mental health concerns about yourself, it is important that you speak to your doctor about it, no matter how minor they may seem. Your doctor can do tests to help rule out any physical health problems that could be contributing. Additionally, they will listen and help you towards the right next step. If you don’t have a doctor, there are many options available for help. Most cities have free mental health clinics, such as Klinic here in Winnipeg. These clinics can be a great place to find resources or even speak to a trained counselor.  

It is vital to understand that things like poor nutrition and the overuse of mood-altering substances, living a high-stress life can lead to poor mental health conditions that may present one or symptoms of mental illness. Like how our bodies get less healthy with the more alcohol we drink and more Mcdonalds we eat, the same goes for your mental health. When we eat poorly, our body’s overall health deteriorates, and it can lead to minor health problems or severe illnesses. The same thing happens with our mental health. With a lack of nutrition or too many toxins, our brain’s overall condition and health deteriorate, and we can start to experience mental health problems. The brain is a muscle that needs to be kept in good shape & healthy to work its best, just like your heart or any other organ in your body.

If you are unable to go to any of these places physically, LOTS of help exists online. There are many apps and websites that offer free or low-cost real counseling.

If you suspect someone else may be struggling with their mental health, what should you do? The best thing you can do is be there for the person. If you feel comfortable, check-in with this person and see how they are doing. If you feel so inclined, find local or online resources you can share with them. Let them know that they don’t have to be suffering alone, or at all. Help exists for every kind of person that is open to it. Understand that not everyone will be ready to talk about it or even receptive to the idea of a mental health struggle. It can be a bit of a hot topic, especially to those who don’t already experience mental health struggles. If they insist they aren’t struggling, don’t want the help, no matter the rejection, the most you can do is accept that and offer your support.

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Protect Your Mental Health This COVID-19 Season

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This season we are all being asked to practice not only social distancing but to take self-isolation and quarantine measures. Being asked to stay indoors and not go about our regular routines for weeks at a time can have negative impacts on your physical and mental health if you don’t take care of different aspects of what your mind and body needs. 

Going through a public health crisis such as COVID-19 can create a lot of fear, anxiety, and social distancing measures that can very quickly lead to increased levels of depression, anxiety, and other symptoms. We must take steps to protect our mental health regardless of if you have pre-existing struggles with mental health.

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Symptoms of Depression & Mental Illness

Depression and sadness

Fatigue, exhaustion, lethargy

Frequent napping

Heightened anxiety 

Mood swings 


Decreased motivation 

Changes in appetite and weight

Symptoms in Children
sadness, depression

Children and teenagers may display signs of mental illness differently; below is a list of symptoms and signs typically seen from young children to teenagers.

Excessive Crying

Irritability and aggravation

Sadness and depression 

Upset stomachs



Unhealthy eating habits

Unhealthy sleeping patterns

It is crucial to make sure your children are getting enough physical activity and mental stimulation and proper nutrition to help improve and prevent these symptoms. 

Even though we live in a day and age where the majority of not only of what we do on a day to day basis is online, there is so much more than the usual that we can take advantage of online. It is vital for our mental health to keep a variety in what we do, keep ourselves learning new information, and even trying new things to make a significance in how self-isolation affects our emotional and physical health. We must try to maintain a healthy mix of social, mental, and physical activities. 

Here are some activities to help break your Cabin Fever this COVID-19 season. 
Things To Try Online

Online Courses

There are thousands of free online courses that you can take on just about anything. Upgrade your credentials, learn a new skill or language, learn how to code a website or app. Learn how to run a business or take the courses you should have studied in college. Check out Udemy and Coursea for some great online courses.

Get some online culture virtual museum & art gallery tours. Check out some of the word’s most famous art galleries and museums that you can visit in bed. 

You can give the famous Water Lilies a virtual visit.

Ever wanted to visit The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam? It is now available online

Van Gogh Museum Now Free Online

Here is a list of 12 more famous museums and art galleries that have free online tours.

If those inspired you, check out this list of 10 different art classes you can take for free online.

Start A Blog/Vlog

Websites and Blogs and Vlogs are much easier to start than you think! Check out WordPress or Godaddy for free and cheap websites and blogs! Videos more your thing? Startup a YouTube channel!

Missing Wildlife?

Check out this collection of live cams with anything from Birds, Aquariums to Puppies, or Pandas! This website has a wide variety of wildlife live streams! 

Try Yoga!

I put this one in the online category because if you’re starting, it might be helpful to start with an app such as Downdog or a YouTube channel, click the link for a good channel for beginners.

Things To Try Offline

Indoor Gardening

Scrap garden, kitchen garden. indoor garden,
Indoor Garden of Kitchen Scraps

Now that you’ve had to stock up on produce try your hand at scrap gardening! Click the link to see the variety of things you can regrow right in your own window!

Did you know that you can plant and grow your kitchen scraps? Try planting the ends of your chives, garlic, or even try your hand at an indoor avocado or pineapple tree.


Now that you have some extra time around meals try cooking and baking your meals more than you usually would. Try experimenting with new combinations and recipes. 


Writing is hugely beneficial to your mental health! Whether you’re self-helping through journaling or just passing the time with creative or technical writing, it keeps you mentally stimulated, grounded, and gets the creative juices for everything else flowing as well!

Spring Cleaning

It is good that now and again to go through the junk drawers, clean out our basements and garages, purge the wardrobe, and finally test all of those pens that keep dying halfway through use. Not only does this benefit your house, but it can even help reduce anxiety and stress. 

Need a change?

Try freshening up the way things feel with rearranging your furniture and decor! 


Now is a great time to crack open those books you’ve meant to get around to, you know what they say, a chapter a day keeps the insanity at bay! 

Meditate and Yoga 

If you can’t go outside, go inside. Meditation, mindfulness, and yoga are all great ways of staying physically active and relaxed. These activities are also useful tools to help keep your anxiety, stress, and depression levels at a minimum.

Benefits of Meditation


Get or stay in shape with at-home workouts, exercises, dancing, or get outside for a walk or a jog!

Work on your goals

Now is the best time to sit back and try to put a little reason for life’s rhyme. Try goal setting and financial planning for your current situation and future. 

Fuel Your Dreams

Start planning your dream business, or that trip, or start that book you’ve always maybe wanted to one day write. Even if its all for fun, these things that we think are silly in reality, might be the best idea on paper. 

Teach your dog (or cat) a new trick

Some old dogs can learn new tricks! Have you tried? Try teaching your animal a new trick; not only does it help your pass time, but it also keeps your animal entertained. 

Get Crafty!

Got some reno’s on the to-do-list? Start a new DIY project, refurbish, or renovation! 

Please remember social distancing is in place for everyone’s health and safety, including yours. Help flatten the curve by staying home as much as possible, washing your hands often and practicing social distancing.

Social distancing laws and other COVID-19 related news are updated daily. Follow us on here and on social media @operationheartheal to keep update an for more information on how you can stay healthy and happy at home!

Going The Social Distance

COVID-19 Social Distancing & Cabin Fever

Canada has seen a steady incline of positive coronavirus cases. Manitoba is for now on the lower amount of confirmed cases with only 35, whereas Quebec is now over 1300. Provinces and other nations are already in a state of emergency. Most areas are now limiting gathers to 5 or less.  

However, there are some essential things to take into consideration with these numbers. We can only test and confirm as fast as our time and resources allow. Tests are minimal, and the majority of cases will go untested and recover without any medical treatment. This is because it’s being advised that people only test if your symptoms are more critical and require medical attention. With that in consideration, there remain hundreds to thousands of people who will go unconfirmed, and may never exhibit severe symptoms. We must take this into account when asking if the social distancing is necessary.

In the past decade, we have seen a few dangerous viruses and illnesses that affected people on a global scale. Throughout the 2000’s we had seen Mad Cow, the SARS, H1N1, and Ebola. If you go further back, you see epidemics of the Spanish Flu, Small Pox, and Polio. But none of these epidemics had closed down our modern world like the coronavirus. 

Across the world, nations have had to enforce lockdown and other emergency protocols. Las Vegas has wholly closed for only the 2nd time in history, the first being JFK’S assassination. In more extreme cases, the Italian government has issued threats of using physical force and weapons to shut down large gatherings and social events if people continue to not comply with these temporary laws. While some of these measures may seem drastic, many people are still not taking these warnings seriously.

People who are sick, and people who have been returning home from travel have been proactive as a whole at practicing social distancing and self-isolation. These are not the only people who are at risk for infecting the rest of the public, just the most immediate. The more significant risk is a large amount of the population right now that isn’t showing symptoms and are at risk for passing the virus on unknowingly.

The coronavirus can take up to 2 weeks for symptoms to start. In this time, a seemingly healthy individual with no symptoms, but that has unknowingly picked up the virus can and will transmit it. The average person has the potential to infect up to hundreds of people in one day. You don’t have to come into immediate contact or proximity to transmit the virus. Anyone who accepts their money uses a door handle after them or picks up the jar that they put back is at high risk of contracting the virus. This is an example of the average person. Social distancing has been put into effect to try and reduce and eventually eliminate this from happening. 

With hospitality and customer service industries closing, many people have been transitioned to work at home or laid off. 

This proactive measure kept hundreds of thousands of us contracting and dying from the COVID 19. If companies didn’t take these precautions, the numbers would be significantly higher

This is the same outcome that social distancing is to have. There are a lot of people who work in health care, emergency services, network providers, customer service positions, retirement and care home staff, and many other vital professionals will still have to go into work. These people are working hard to keep us safe; our loved ones cared for and keep our resources going. We all must do our part to keep them healthy, too. 

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Together We Can Flatten The Curve & Bounce Back

While this measure is for the best interest of our entire population, it isn’t exactly practical for everyone. Having to follow these social distancing rules and being forced into self-isolation does pose the risk of experiencing cabin fever, a term used to coin the effects that being cooped up for long periods can have on the mind and body.

Some potential risks and symptoms of cabin fever include:

Depression or sadness

Becoming agitated 




Troubles concentrating 

Decreased motivation 

Frequent napping

Difficulty waking up

Weight gain or loss

Social isolation 

Here are some things you can do to beat cabin fever and making working and playing at home healthier and happier than ever!

Exercise at home 

Start a DIY project 

Take free online courses 

Virtual Museums 

Try meditation 

Do yoga/stretch 



Start a blog 

Set your goals

Work on your business 

Clean your house

At-home spa treatments 


Plan a trip

Learn your family tree

Learn a new skill, craft, or language

Try a new show or YouTube channel 

Play board games

Try to make every day different as much as you can, whether you’re with family or alone. 

While we should be staying away from busy public areas, you can still enjoy getting outside. It is vital for your mental health and body to get fresh air and sunshine (natural Vitamin D). If you are someone who has been transitioned to work at home, it is a good idea to take yourself on a walk after a long day of working at home before a long night of binge-watching Netflix. Give your eyes a break and your body and legs much-needed movement and stretching. 

We are all in this together, and together we can bounce back faster than ever.