Mental Health 101

Congenital heart disease is never just about the heart. CHD has a real, often invisible, impact on all aspects of life and health for patients and families, especially when it comes to mental health.

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Congenital heart disease is never just about the heart. CHD has a real impact on all aspects of life and health for patients and families, especially when it comes to mental health. Mental health issues are extremely common within the CHD community and one of the most difficult aspects of CHD patients and families grapple with. And while these issues are immensely important in the well-being of patients with CHD and their families, too often mental health issues are underrecognized and undertreated. At Conquering CHD, we are committed to educating the community about the mental health difficulties faced by CHD patients and families. In the coming months, you can expect to learn more about mental health, and how we can take steps towards creating better resources and support together.

What is mental health? 

Mental health is our emotional and social well-being and it impacts how we think, feel, and behave. It plays a major role in all aspects of our daily lives and is a key part of our overall health. Every single person has mental health and it is just as important to our well-being as our physical health. 

What is a mental health condition? 

Mental health condition, or mental illness, refers to a set of symptoms that have been identified by the mental health community. Mental health conditions are described in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V), the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11), or by people with lived experience. (Mental Health America (MHA), 2022)

Types of mental health conditions

There are a wide variety of mental health conditions with varying degrees of severity. Some of the most common mental health conditions in the congenital heart disease community include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder

Helpful Terms to Know

  • Coping skill: A tool or strategy you can use to help you deal with difficult situations and decrease unpleasant emotions, thoughts, or behaviors. 
  • Lived experience: your first-hand, personal experience dealing with a mental health challenge
  • Mental health concern: anything that may cause you to believe your mental health is suffering
  • Mental health professional: a licensed of certified mental health treatment provider
  • Mental health screen: an evaluation of your mental health and well-being through scientifically validated assessment tools
  • Protective factor: something that decreases the chances of developing a condition and/or balances out one of your risk factors
  • Risk factor: something that increases your chances of developing a mental health condition
  • Self-stigma: negative attitudes and shame about your own mental health 
  • Stigma: negative, judgmental, unfair attitudes toward mental health challenges and those who live with them
  • Stress: a feeling of emotional or physical tension
  • Symptom: a physical or mental trait that means you might have a concern, condition, or diagnosis
  • Trauma: an emotional response to something disturbing, scary, or shocking that overwhelms your ability to cope

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