Mental health and wellness are integral to whole health. However, it is not uncommon for people to experience times in their lives or in the lives of their loved ones when optimal mental health is unattainable. In fact, one in four people will experience a mental illness sometime during their life. Knowing more about mental health and mental illness can better prepare us to respond to our own needs or the needs of others in a mental health crisis. In fact, it’s critical to know that people with mental health conditions can live successful, integrated lives in the community and recovery is possible.
According to Mental Health: A Report of the Surgeon General
- “Mental illness is the term that refers collectively to all diagnosable mental disorders. Mental disorders are health conditions that are characterized by alterations in thinking, mood, or behavior (or some combination thereof) associated with distress and/or impaired functioning. Alzheimer’s disease exemplifies a mental disorder largely marked by alterations in thinking (especially forgetting). Depression exemplifies a mental disorder largely marked by alterations in mood. Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder exemplifies a mental disorder largely marked by alterations in behavior (over activity) and/or thinking (inability to concentrate). Alterations in thinking, mood, or behavior contribute to a host of problems—patient distress, impaired functioning, or heightened risk of death, pain, disability, or loss of freedom.”
In short, a mental illness is:
- A disorder of the brain – the body’s most important organ.
- A health condition like heart disease or diabetes.
- No one’s fault — not the person’s nor the family’s.
A mental illness may be caused by:
- Chemical imbalances in the brain
- Biological, environmental, social and/or cultural factors
know facts from fiction
Myth: A mental illness means that you are “crazy.”
Fact: A mental illness means that you have a diagnosable mental health condition. Labels such as “crazy” or “psycho” are cruel and can discourage people from seeking help.
Myth: People with a mental illness can “pull themselves out of it.”
Fact: A mental illness is not caused by a personal weakness nor can it be “cured” by personal strength. Proper diagnosis, treatment options and support is needed to achieve recovery.
Myth: Mental health conditions are rare.
Fact: Mental health conditions affect 1 in 5 people
Myth: People with mental health conditions will always be ill.
Fact: Recovery is possible and achievable. A mental illness may be a lifelong condition, like diabetes, but as with other health conditions, proper treatment enables many people with a mental health condition to lead successful, fulfilling lives in the community.
Myth: People with mental illness are often violent.
Fact: People with a mental illness are much more likely to be victims of violence than the cause. With appropriate treatment, people with mental health conditions are no more likely to be violent than the general population.
Myth: Mental illness cannot affect me.
Fact: Mental illness can affect anyone. It strikes people of all ages, races, ethnicities, genders, religions and socio-economic levels regardless of whether there is a family history of mental illness or not.
Myth: Children do not suffer from mental illness.
Fact: Millions of children are affected by anxiety, depression and other mental illnesses. Prevention and early intervention are essential to long-term health and wellness.
learn the signs associated with mental illness
The key to early intervention is recognizing the signs associated with mental illness and offering assistance to the person displaying those signs. Signs usually occur gradually and are lasting or severe. Some signs include:
- Changes in daily routine, such as changes in sleeping or eating patterns (more or less) or unexplained physical problems
- Mood Swings
- Suicidal thoughts or threats
- Abuse of alcohol or other drugs
- Pro-longed sadness or disinterest in living life
- Strong feelings of anger
- Excessive fears, worries or anxiety
- Confused thinking or speech
- Inability to cope with daily activities
- Withdrawal (from family, friends, and usual activities)
In collaboration with Mental Health America, Mental Health Connecticut is a supporter of #B4Stage4, which promotes strategies to identify and seek help for people with mental health conditions before they are in Stage 4. To learn more about B4Stage4, visit Mental Health America.
mental illness is treatable!
Treatment methods usually include a combination of:
Psychotherapy: Includes individual, family and group therapy. Psychotherapy can help people understand the illness, learn how to deal with any problems that relate to the illness, and make positive changes in one’s life.
Medication: Many people with mental health conditions can benefit from medication. Medications can help correct chemical imbalances, alleviate symptoms associated with the mental illness, and promote recovery.
Peer Supports: There are various programs where individuals who have shown significant improvement in their personal mental wellness journey support members of their community by teaching skills, networking, and providing general support through the recovery process. Research shows that individuals with a mental health condition who are helped by their peers are more likely to have a longer-lasting recovery.
Holistic Options: Holistic treatment addresses the underlying cause of the mental illness without the use of traditional treatment methods such as medication and/or psychotherapy. Supported by research, a healthy diet and exercise are considered to be integral components of treatment and would be considered holistic.
To ensure proper treatment, seek a professional diagnosis and engage in a treatment plan.
If you or someone you know is in need of mental health services, please click here.
Mental Health Connecticut is committed to educating people about mental health and wellness through community forums, workshops, materials and events. MHC believes our communities will attain whole health through information, tools and skill-building that promote understanding and acceptance.
Together we can do more to help individuals with mental health conditions live happy, productive lives. Your one-time, monthly, or annual donation will help drive the mission of MHC. Together we will make a difference.