The importance of mental health

The following information is provided directly from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Source: AIDSinfo,  U.S. Department of Health and Human 

What is mental health?

Mental health is defined as a state of overall well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.

"If you are living with HIV, it is important to take care of not only your physical health, but also your mental health."

"If you are living with HIV, it is important to take care of not only your physical health, but also your mental health."


Mental health has three main areas:

  • Emotional well-being (life satisfaction, happiness, cheerfulness, peacefulness)
  • Psychological well-being (self-acceptance, optimism, hopefulness, purpose in life, spirituality, self-direction, positive relationships)
  • Social well-being (social acceptance, believing in the potential of people and society as a whole, personal self-worth and usefulness to society, sense of community)


Are people with HIV at risk for experiencing mental health

Anyone can have problems with mental health. Mental health conditions are common in the United States. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), in 2014, approximately 18% of adults in the United States had a mental illness.conditions?

It’s important to remember that mental health conditions are treatable and that people who have mental health problems can recover.
— National Institute of Mental Health

People with HIV, however, have higher rates of mental health conditions than the general public. People with HIV may experience depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, suicidal thoughts, and insomnia. To learn more about specific mental health problems, visit

What should I do if I need help or someone tells me I need help?

Talk to your doctor. Your doctor will consider whether any of your HIV medicines may be affecting your mental health. Your doctor can also help you find someone who has experience helping HIV-infected people with their mental health. For example:

  • Psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, and therapists can use therapy to help you cope with life challenges and mental health problems. (Psychiatrists can also prescribe medicines.)
  • Case managers can help you find mental health treatment, housing and transportation programs, domestic violence shelters, and child care.

Other ways to improve your mental health include:

  • Join a support group: A support group is a group of people who meet in a safe and supportive environment to provide support to each other. There are mental health support groups and HIV support groups.
  • Practice meditation: Research suggests that meditation can help lessen depression, anxiety, and stress. For more information on meditation, view the Meditation: In Depth website from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH).
  • Maintain healthy habits: Regular exercise, adequate sleep, and healthy nutrition are important ways to take good care of yourself and can help when dealing with stressful situations.

To find mental health treatment services, use these resources from NIMH and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

Source: AIDSinfo,  U.S. Department of Health and Human