More threads by Retired


National Alliance on Mental Illness


What is Mental Illness: Mental Illness Facts
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.

Here are some important facts about mental illness and recovery:

  • Mental illnesses are biologically based brain disorders. They cannot be overcome through "will power" and are not related to a person's "character" or intelligence.
  • Mental disorders fall along a continuum of severity. Even though mental disorders are 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 suffer from a serious mental illness. It is estimated that mental illness affects 1 in 5 families in America.
  • 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 illnesses 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.
Hi Steve,

This post is old, but it shed some light for me.

I used to think mental illness is generally difficult to recognize. Maybe society just don't see it that way, the barriers, which make it more difficult.

The brain fascinates me. "Mental illnesses are not the result of personal weakness, lack of character, or poor upbringing." It's just sad it happens: "Mental illnesses are biologically based brain disorders." I bet there's a lot more of these cases that are unaccounted for.

Campaigns for this should always push through, so the public can really have an idea whether they have a mental illness or not.

Thanks for your post.
I do think the way one is brought up does have a say though in mental illness especially if one is brought up in a dysfunctional family just saying that


I used to think mental illness is generally difficult to recognize.

Glad to hear you found this post helpful! Perhaps the difficulty to recognize some forms of mental illness is due to peoples' reluctance to admit to themselves or to those close to them that they are struggling and that they would like to get help....because of the fear of stigma, ridicule, embarrassment or so many other reasons for denial.

Our bodies are electro-chemical organisms where there can be malfunctions in the chemistry or the hard wiring of the brain, in the same way the liver, the pancreas or the kidney's can malfunction....but sadly, when it comes to mental dysfunction, society often interprets it as a person's personal weakness rather than for the medical disorder that it actually is.

The brain fascinates me.

Is that out of personal curiosity or professional interest?
Sorry for the laaate reply.

Thanks for your educational response, Steve. :)

It's out of personal curiosity, Steve. There are great minds; there are, well, "ill" minds. The fact that they could both go to the extreme is simply amazing. I'm not saying I take joy in discussing mental illnesses, of course not. Whether there are actually physical or psychological damages in the brain, the brain/mind remains powerful. And what makes it greater is when it starts to interact with the community. You know, humanity's essence. :)

I'm only saying this because we may respect those who are not "mentally ill", we may look up to them, but honestly I cringe whenever I hear people joke or talk about the mentally ill. Of course if, for example, the ill physically hurts another person, that might cause some buzz, but the mentally ill doesn't deserve lesser respect than the normal guys.

Thanks again, Steve.

---------- Post Merged at 09:32 AM ---------- Previous Post was at 09:28 AM ----------

I do think the way one is brought up does have a say though in mental illness especially if one is brought up in a dysfunctional family just saying that

If the mentally ill learns this, it could be the most liberating thing he/she will ever learn, don't you think? :)

David Baxter PhD

Late Founder
It's no secret that nature and nurture interact to determine outcomes in anyone, including those with mental health issues.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk


I believe my parents gave me a mental health mind for they never taught me anything about emotional episodes. I have had my share of growing up problems all negative! At seventy three I wonder about my emotional state when I get emotional. Today when I feel a emotional spell coming on I run and take my medicine and in a few minutes I am fine. I also have Alzheimer,s and a over emotional mind because of my wife. One problem at a time is good several is not. I am concerned I might lose it my mind and go over the edge, by hurting someone or suicide for just peace. Will double check with my doctor on these thoughts.

I want to love my fellow humans, faults and all, but that's something else to think about.Curious:confused::confused:


Definitely check in with your doctor about yourur thoughts and feelings. Its good you take your medicine when you feel your anxiety is out of control and it works for you. Life can be hard but from my understanding of does not mean that you can't have a pleasurable life. I need to find that interesting article about it.......may take me awhile.
I don't think people should talk for others just because they deem them to be ill-equipped. Not unless your representing the individual with them being present. In saying that; I can only talk for myself.

I am on a disability pension for mental illness but don't take medication. Despite utilizing all of the other forms (and more not mentioned) of recovery as mentioned in opening post I find I am stigmatized by clinical professions + embedded professionals and varioius peers reliant on such aids for not taking medication. Medication is the first point of call many professionals ask when bringing to light one's labels/DXs in much the same way people judge each by their professions.

I agree that receiving a diagnosis can go a long way to helping an individual take control through understanding alone, however when you start to judge people by their labels, medication, employment status, religion, culture and so on ... well ... that's an illness in our society that's in greater need of attention when compared to defining people other than ourselves. The establishments/ideals within the mental health sector (health sector alone) is as predisposed to such a cancer as stigma itself. Especially when it comes to healing methods that do not require their services. Everyone is typically defined by their label and that label is mostly seen as one (individual) always in need of being fixed.

Sometimes I think it's not the imbalance but more the way people choose to treat themselves outside the box (preconditioned ideal) in as much as how we choose to live. Unless we are living according to someone else's standards people will always resist. I mean this more of everyone ... not just doctor and client, or client and doctor.

Of course this comes from someone often refer to as ill-equipped, unbalanced,undesirable, and so on. Such is the nature of Societies Illness - Not Mine → (yet it is ... one and the same). I'm just byproduct in an 'imperfect' world ... although 'imperfect' is a cop out term that does well to feed the wheel and ensure many more are in need of a fix.

Does not seem right to speak of others without them being present. Again ... this only being a mentally unstable perspective. Feels on par for me.


Thankfully there seems to be a change in the mental health system ... a 'slow change' ... but none the less a change in the right direction. A change less reliant on chemical solutions.

---------- Post Merged at 04:41 PM ---------- Previous Post was at 04:23 PM ----------

I just add one more thing because my 15 minute edit time was up:

I remember a username in another mental health forum who's nick was 'Stigmastomper.' I think that kind of sums it up for me. :)
Replying is not possible. This forum is only available as an archive.