Mental illness: What is it?
Mental illness is a health condition that causes changes in a person’s thinking, mood, and behavior. These conditions include mood disorders like depression; psychotic disorders like schizophrenia; personality disorders; and anxiety disorders like obsessive compulsive disorders (OCD), and post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD).
Mental illness is especially common among young people, and incidents are high. Yet, this age group shows the lowest rate of help-seeking behaviors, because too many people respond negatively when confronted with a friend’s mental illness. This only fuels the stigma surrounding diagnosis, and prevents those affected from seeking help.
It starts with you.
Imagine that you’ve just been diagnosed with a serious but treatable physical condition. You are scared and confused so you tell a friend. How would you feel if your friend laughs and calls you names, made rude gestures, and told you to snap out of it? People with mental illness get these reactions everyday.
The emotional and psychological aspects of mental illness make supportive friends and family even more important to a person’s recovery. If your friend tells you he or she has a mental illness, read the tips below for what you might say or how you might want to respond:
- Express your concern and sympathy.
- Ask for more details about how he or she is managing. Listen to the answers and continue the conversation.
- Find out what you can do to help.
- Reassure your friend that you still care about him or her, and be sure to include her/him in your everyday plans – seeing a movie, taking a jog etc. If your friend turns this down, reassure and re-invite without being overbearing.
- Remind your friend that mental illness is treatable.
Courtesy SAMSHA.org. May is Mental Health Awareness month. Take some time to learn what a difference you can make.
MiseryMisery is a horrible companion:He is gloomy and depressed.He is negative and finds darkness in the lightest of situations.Every time you are close to overcoming him, he plants seed of sadness in your head,pulling you back from the ledge that will bring you happiness.For the thing he fears most is the loneliness he must embrace
with you gone.
Gabby B. 13 years old
- Anxiety disorders in children: fact sheet (National Institute of Mental Health)
- Depression in children and adolescents (National Institute of Mental Health)
- Mental Illness in Kids: The Surprising Warning Signs (Everydayhealth.com)
- Some stats on the devastating impact of mental illness worldwide, followed by some reasons for hope (Ted.com)
- How Mental Illness Makes Some Executives Stronger (Forbes.com)