Education

Mental Health Information

Millions of people in the U.S. are affected by mental illness each year. It’s important to measure how common mental illness is, so we can understand its physical, social and financial impact — and so we can show that no one is alone. These numbers are also powerful tools for raising public awareness, stigma-busting and advocating for better health care.

You are NOT Alone

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You are NOT Alone

NAMI_YouAreNotAlone_2020_FINAL_1

Education

ABOUT MENTAL ILLNESS

A mental illness is a condition that affects a person's thinking, feeling or mood. Such conditions may affect someone's ability to relate to others and function each day. Each person will have different experiences, even people with the same diagnosis. Trying to tell the difference between what expected behaviors are and what might be the signs of a mental health condition isn't always easy, but identifying a problem early can help lead to the best outcome.

SYMPTOMS

We all experience emotional ups and downs from time to time caused by events in our lives. Mental health conditions go beyond these emotional reactions and become something longer lasting. They are medical conditions that cause changes in how we think and feel and in our mood. They are not the result of personal weakness, lack of character or poor upbringing.

In adults and adolescents, the common signs of mental illness in adults and adolescents can include the following:

  • Excessive worrying or fear
  • Feeling excessively sad or low
  • Confused thinking or problems concentrating and learning
  • Extreme mood changes, including uncontrollable “highs” or feelings of euphoria
  • Prolonged or strong feelings of irritability or anger
  • Avoiding friends and social activities
  • Difficulties understanding or relating to other people
  • Changes in sleeping habits or feeling tired and low energy
  • Changes in eating habits such as increased hunger or lack of appetite
  • Changes in sex drive
  • Difficulty perceiving reality (delusions or hallucinations, in which a person experiences and senses things that don't exist in objective reality)
  • Inability to perceive changes in one’s own feelings, behavior or personality (”lack of insight” or anosognosia)
  • Abuse of substances like alcohol or drugs
  • Multiple physical ailments without obvious causes (such as headaches, stomach aches, vague and ongoing “aches and pains”)
  • Thinking about suicide
  • Inability to carry out daily activities or handle daily problems and stress
  • An intense fear of weight gain or concern with appearance (mostly in adolescents)

In young children, mental health conditions can also begin to develop because they are still learning how to identify and talk about thoughts and emotions. Symptoms in children may include the following:

  • Changes in school performance
  • Excessive worry or anxiety, for instance fighting to avoid bed or school
  • Hyperactive behavior
  • Frequent nightmares
  • Frequent disobedience or aggression
  • Frequent temper tantrums
TREATMENT

Innovations in the range of evidence based medications, therapy and psychosocial services such as psychiatric rehabilitation, housing, employment and peer supports have made wellness and recovery a reality for people living with mental health conditions. Choosing the right mix of treatments and supports that work for you is an important step in the recovery process.

Treatment choices for mental health conditions will vary from person to person. Even people with the same diagnosis will have different experiences, needs, goals and objectives for treatment. There is no “one size fits all” treatment.

When people are directly involved in designing their own treatment plan, including defining recovery and wellness goals, choosing services that support them and evaluating treatment decisions and progress , the experience of care and outcomes are improved.

There are many tools that can improve the experience on the road to wellness: medication, counseling (therapy), social support and education.

Together with a treatment team you can develop a well-rounded and integrated recovery plan that may include counseling, medications, support groups, education programs and other strategies that work for you.

Mental Health Facts

Frequently we find ourselves wanting to learn how to take charge of our own mental health or how to help a loved one or friend. Take a look at these helpful tips on what mental health is and what it is not. Additional information on what is appropriate to say to a co-worker, friend, loved one, or even a stranger will help break down the stigma of mental illness and build a compassionate community to help individuals find the treatment they need.

Mental Health Myth vs. Facts

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What to Say/Not to Say

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RESOURCES

Visit our Resources section to find information in our community.

LIVING WITH MENTAL ILLNESS - Read More

CAREGIVERS - Read More