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Mental Wellness: Redefining the Meaning of Health

Mental Illness to Mental Wellbeing

  • 1 in 5 Americans will experience mental illness each year.

  • 1 in 6 youth between 6-17 experience a mental illness each year.

  • 50% of mental illness starts by the age of 14, and 75% begins by the age of 24.

Mental illness is far more common than many of us know. Developing a mental illness is a result of a combination of factors such as genetics, environment, and lifestyle influence. Traumatic life events, such as adverse childhood experiences, stressful jobs, or difficult home life can increase susceptibility and impact mental health and mental wellness.

While this data is important in recognizing the prevalence and magnitude of need in mental health as it pertains to mental illness, it is not the entire story. Mental health is not simply the absence of an illness rather mental health is a spectrum that we move along across our lives. It encompasses social, psychological, and emotional well-being across the lifespan. To improve mental health in individuals and communities we must emphasize prevention and recovery from mental illness AND an overall promotion of mental wellbeing across the lifespan.


Addressing the Influence of Childhood Trauma on Wellbeing

Recent work with tribal behavioral health leaders across California called to the forefront the need for screening tools that examine trauma and resilience pertinent to Indigenous communities. Culturally responsive approaches to promoting mental wellness along with addressing the stigma associated with trauma is essential, one tribal leader shared,

“There is no way to recover, unless we uncover.”


Promoting Mental Wellbeing through Healing

Often substance abuse is associated with underlying co-morbidities or poor mental health and a result of unresolved trauma. This literature review emphasizes the root causes of substance abuse and substance use disorders recognizing its impact on individual, family, and community health and wellbeing. Promoting cultures of healing and mental and physical wellbeing start with identifying and addressing the root cause, recognizing the impact, and promoting communities of recovery.



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