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

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., and cannot be overcome through “will power”.

The good news about mental illness is that recovery is possible. 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.


Mental Illness by the Numbers

  • Adults that experience a mental illness every year 25%
  • Youth ages 13-18 who experience mental disorders every year 20%
  • Children ages 8-15 who experience mental disorders every year 13%
  • Number of American adults who live with schizophrenia 1%
  • Number of American adults who live with bipolar disorder 2%
  • Number of American adults who live with major depression 6%
  • Number of American adults who live with anxiety disorders such as OCD, panic disorder, PTSD, and generalized anxiety 18%
  • Percentage of homeless adults who live with a mental disorder 26%
  • State and local inmates who have “a recent history” of a mental disorder 21%
  • Youth in juvenile justice system who have at least one mental health condition 70%