Understanding mental health
Let's have an open talk about mental health
Talking about depression, anxiety or other problems that may affect your behavioral health (also called mental health) isn’t always easy. But let’s start the conversation. If you or a loved one may be dealing with these issues, you’re not alone. Millions of people in the U.S. are affected by behavioral health issues each year.1 Learning how to talk about and understand your mental health issues may be the first step in recovery. Then, you may learn ways to cope and start feeling better.
What is behavioral health?
Behavioral health (or mental health) are terms used to describe a number of problems that may affect your mental wellbeing. When we talk about behavioral health, it includes stress, anxiety, depression, mood disorders or other psychological issues. Behavioral health disorders may also include things like substance use disorders, eating disorders, or psychotic disorders.
Taking care of your mental health is important for your overall health. Your emotional state may impact your physical health, too. If you’re struggling, seeking treatment may help you feel better so you can live a healthier life.
Understanding mental health problems and getting help
Each person has their own story. Worries, emotions and feelings are personal. Mental health problems may come up any time, and at any age – even in children. Sometimes there may be a higher risk if there’s been abuse2 or trauma3 in your past. There may be a higher risk of mental health issues if you have a family history of mental health disorders.4
Biological, social, emotional, and environmental factors may also contribute to mental health issues. Some mental health issues, like depression, may happen because of a chemical imbalance in the brain.5 Even social problems like bullying may affect our mental health and how we may deal with day-to-day life.6
Some of the signs of mental health problems may not be easy to spot — and some may be harder to notice than others. If you see some of these signs, it may be your signal that it’s time to get help.
Eating or sleeping too much or not enough
Losing interest in people and activities
Aches and pains
Drinking alcohol too much or using drugs
Irritability and anger
Thoughts of harming oneself or others
Thoughts of suicide
While these may be some clues to look for, this list doesn’t cover it all. Be aware and ask for help when things may not be getting better. Asking for help may be your most important step in taking care of yourself.
You can learn more by checking mentalhealth.gov. It has a longer list of behavioral and mental health concerns and helpful information about each.
You can connect with mental health and behavioral health specialists to help you handle problems like:
Anxiety or stress
Alcohol or drug abuse
Coping with grief or loss
Compulsive spending or gambling
How to find mental health programs and support
If you are a UnitedHealthcare member, learn about programs and support that may be available to you through your health plan.
Common mental health problems
Below are details to help you learn more about mental health problems that many people may struggle with at different times in their lives. You may want to talk to a professional if these problems sound like issues you may be dealing with.
Feeling nervous or anxious may seem like a regular part of life — but when it interrupts your daily activities, it may be a bigger issue. Learn how to know if it may be time to reach out for help.
Depression isn’t just feeling down. If you or a loved one struggle with depression, you may be aware that it’s a serious problem. But there may be ways to cope and feel better. Counseling and medication may help, as well as other resources. Learn more about depression and how to get help.
We all may deal with stress, but what if it gets to be too much? Learn ways to help stay in better balance when life may get stressful, whether that’s at school, work or at home.
Mental health support and resources available by phone or online
If you need help right away — for yourself or a loved one — call 911 or use the emergency numbers below.
If you or someone you know is in suicidal crisis or emotional distress, get emergency help right away. Contact the lifeline for 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress and prevention and crisis resources for you or loved ones. You can also find 24/7 support through an online chat called Lifeline Chat.
- National Alliance on Mental Illness, Mental Health By the Numbers
- National Institute for Mental Health, Blueprint for Change: Research on Child and Adolescent Mental Health
- National Institute for Mental Health, Coping with Traumatic Events
- National Institute for Mental Health, Depression
- Mental Health America, Depression
- stopbullying.gov, Effects of Bullying