What is happiness and how is it related to mental health?

modern healthcare virtual health virtual briefing


Every year on March 20th is the International Day of Happiness, an annual UN event promoting happiness as a global human right. This year's theme is "Build Back Happier" as the world recovers from the pandemic. While COVID and its consequent stressors have made it apparent that mental health, its impact, and its treatment play a direct role in happiness, studies of what brings joy have existed for over 2,500 years. Great philosophers such as Socrates, Confucius, Aristotle, and Buddha devoted their lives to uncovering its roots and defining its meaning. 

For some, happiness is knowing that they live a good life or a life with purpose. For others, it is surrounding themselves with family and friends who care about them and feeling loved. However, happiness is something so many want but are unable to achieve – at least all the time. Stressful circumstances, marital issues, troublesome social relationships, and demanding work situations can chip away at even the most joyful person. Many also suffer from addiction issues that make it impossible to feel contentment unless their habit is maintained. It is not to say that one must feel happy all the time in every situation, as expressing other emotions, such as sadness when one experiences a loss, is a fundamentally normal and healthy reaction. It is about the balance of those emotions and feelings. 

But many people have a difficult time coping with their emotions. According to WHO, depression is the world's leading cause of disability, with almost 322 million people affected – nearly 5 percent of the population. This is increasingly concerning, as happiness has a direct impact on physical health as well. Research suggests that life satisfaction improves cardiovascular health, boosts the immune system, lowers inflammation levels, and decreases blood pressure. Some doctors even imply that more cancer cases are found in unhappy and stressed individuals, and overall, happiness is believed to extend lifespans and provide a higher quality of life. If patients and doctors want to improve overall wellness, mental health is an excellent place to start. 


Mental health treatments

There are several schools of thought when it comes to treating patients with chronic unhappiness or depression. University of Pennsylvania psychologist Martin Seligman shaped the movement of positive psychology – a branch of psychology that explores human emotional growth. Seligman stopped focusing on disease and distress and instead equipped patients with knowledge and skills. Today, mental health providers that practice this form of psychology help individuals determine how they can experience positive emotions, develop authentic relationships, accomplish their goals, and create a meaningful life; therefore, cultivating a transition towards happiness.

Other suggested treatments include cognitive-behavioral therapy (therapy that takes into regard your behavior patterns in certain distinctive situations) and acceptance and commitment therapy (a psychological intervention that uses acknowledgement, mindfulness, dedication, and behavior-change to improve psychological flexibility), which have a real and lasting impact on people's levels of depression. Unlike some other types of therapy, they can be administered by a professional without extensive medical expertise. 


How can telemedicine improve mental health and happiness?

Many individuals are turning to virtual mental health therapy, which has experienced a considerable increase during the pandemic. With these platforms, accredited and licensed therapists help patients with anxiety, relationships, trauma, grief, depression, and more in a hospital or home setting. These online psychology programs offer convenient access with the same quality and professionalism found in person with a licensed therapist. Furthermore, these solutions extend access to those in rural or remote areas that may not have a qualified therapist available within miles. 


Who can benefit from a telemedicine telepsychiatry program?

Anyone who is struggling with their emotions can benefit from therapy, but telemedicine is a preferred option for those who don't feel comfortable meeting in person with a traditional therapist, have found themselves needing immediate care in a hospital or medical clinic, cannot easily access a mental health professional in person, or requires medication management. 

However, hospitals and clinics benefit from virtual telepsychiatry programs as well. Virtual physicians can perform psychiatric evaluations, inpatient rounding, medication management services, and medical and surgery floor consults in acute care hospitals, outpatient clinics, and behavioral health hospitals. By integrating access to psychiatric services, telepsychiatrists provide needed services that dramatically reduce wait times for psychiatric consults, focus psychiatric patient assessments on the most critical cases, and maximize patient satisfaction.


While there are many choices out there, it is vital to find the right provider for you and your facility. To learn more about how VirtualMed Staff can help patients with immediate and efficient psychiatric care, contact us today.

If you'd like a custom telemedicine solution for your hospital, get started with a consultation today!

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