Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is Mental Illness?
Mental illnesses are medical conditions that disrupt a person's thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to others and daily functioning. Just as diabetes is a disorder of the pancreas, mental illnesses are medical conditions that often result in a diminished capacity for coping with the ordinary demands of life.
Serious mental illnesses include major depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and borderline personality disorder. The good news about mental illness is that recovery is possible.
Mental illnesses can affect persons of any age, race, religion, or income. Mental illnesses are not the result of personal weakness, lack of character or poor upbringing. Mental illnesses are treatable. Most people diagnosed with a serious mental illness can experience relief from their symptoms by actively participating in an individual treatment plan.
In addition to medication treatment, psychosocial treatment such as cognitive behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy, peer support groups and other community services can also be components of a treatment plan and that assist with recovery. The availability of transportation, diet, exercise, sleep, friends and meaningful paid or volunteer activities contribute to overall health and wellness, including mental illness recovery.
Source: National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
2. What are some facts about mental illness?
Mental illnesses are serious medical illnesses. They cannot be overcome through "will power" and are not related to a person's "character" or intelligence. Mental illness falls along a continuum of severity. Even though mental illness is widespread in the population, the main burden of illness is concentrated in a much smaller proportion-about 6 percent, or 1 in 17 Americans-who live with a serious mental illness. The National Institute of Mental Health reports that One in four adults-approximately 57.7 million Americans-experience a mental health disorder in a given year
· The U.S. Surgeon General reports that 10 percent of children and adolescents in the United States suffer from serious emotional and mental disorders that cause significant functional impairment in their day-to-day lives at home, in school and with peers.
· The World Health Organization has reported that four of the 10 leading causes of disability in the US and other developed countries are mental disorders. By 2020, Major Depressive illness will be the leading cause of disability in the world for women and children.
· Mental illness usually strike individuals in the prime of their lives, often during adolescence and young adulthood. All ages are susceptible, but the young and the old are especially vulnerable.
· Without treatment the consequences of mental illness for the individual and society are staggering: unnecessary disability, unemployment, substance abuse, homelessness, inappropriate incarceration, suicide and wasted lives; The economic cost of untreated mental illness is more than 100 billion dollars each year in the United States.
· The best treatments for serious mental illnesses today are highly effective; between 70 and 90 percent of individuals have significant reduction of symptoms and improved quality of life with a combination of pharmacological and psychosocial treatments and supports.
· With appropriate effective medication and a wide range of services tailored to their needs, most people who live with serious mental illnesses can significantly reduce the impact of their illness and find a satisfying measure of achievement and independence. A key concept is to develop expertise in developing strategies to manage the illness process.
· Early identification and treatment is of vital importance; By ensuring access to the treatment and recovery supports that are proven effective, recovery is accelerated and the further harm related to the course of illness is minimized.
· Stigma erodes confidence that mental disorders are real, treatable health conditions. We have allowed stigma and a now unwarranted sense of hopelessness to erect attitudinal, structural and financial barriers to effective treatment and recovery. It is time to take these barriers down.
Source: National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
3. What are the causes of mental illness?
Although the exact cause of most mental illnesses is not known, research has shown that mental illnesses are caused by a combination of biological, psychological, and environmental (social)factors.
4. Am I immune to mental illness?
Mental illnesses can affect persons of any age, race,caste, religion, or income. They do not discriminate.
5. Are there any warning signs of mental illness I should look for?
Symptoms of mental disorders vary depending on the type and severity of the condition. Some general symptoms that may suggest a mental disorder include:
· Long-lasting sadness
· Excessive fear, worrying or anxiety
· Social withdrawal
· Dramatic changes in eating or sleeping habits
· Getting feelings of anger very quickly
· Hallucinations (seeing or hearing things others cannot see or hear)
· Delusions( false fixed beliefs which do not go away)
· Increasing inability to cope with daily problems and activities
· Thoughts of ending the life( Suicide)
· Abuse of drugs and/or alcohol
In order children and pre-teens:
· Drugs and/or alcohol use
· Inability to cope with daily activities like school work
· Changes in sleeping and/or eating habits
· Skipping school, stealing or damaging property
· Intense fear of gaining weight
· Long-lasting negative mood, often along with poor appetite and thoughts of death
· Frequent outbursts of anger
In younger children:
· Changes in school performance
· Poor grades despite strong efforts
· Persistent nightmares
· Persistent disobedience and/or aggressive behavior
· Frequent temper tantrums
6. What treatment options are available?
Just as there are different types of medications for physical illness, different treatment options are available for individuals with mental illness. Treatment works differently for different people. It is important to find what works best for you or your child. There are many medications available. There are different kinds of therapies people can utilize, yoga, exercise and other modalities.