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From Mental Illness to Mental Health: Gain Insight and Empowerment

(Courtesy of MentalHealth.gov)

What Is Mental Health?

What Is a Mental Illness?

What Are the Early Warning Signs Mental Illness?

How Can We Recover from Mental Illness and Develop and Maintain Positive Mental Health?

What Is Recovery?

What Are the Causes of Mental Illness?

What Is the Stigma Associated with Mental Illness and How Can We Reduce It?

What Are the Different Categories of Mental Illness?

 
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What Is Mental Health?
Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.

  • Positive mental health allows people to:
  • Realize their full potential
  • Cope with the stresses of life
  • Work productively
  • Make meaningful contributions to their communities

Ways to maintain positive mental health include:

  • Getting professional help if you need it
  • Connecting with others
  • Staying positive
  • Getting physically active
  • Helping others
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Developing coping skills
 
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What Is a Mental Illness?
Over the course of your life, if you experience mental health problems, your thinking, mood, and behavior could be affected. Many factors contribute to mental health problems, including:

  • Biological factors, such as genes or brain chemistry
  • Life experiences, such as trauma or abuse
  • Family history of mental health problems

 

 
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What Are the Early Warning Signs Mental Illness?
Not sure if you or someone you know is living with mental health problems? Experiencing one or more of the following feelings or behaviors can be an early warning sign of a problem:

  • Eating or sleeping too much or too little
  • Pulling away from people and usual activities
  • Having low or no energy
  • Feeling numb or like nothing matters
  • Having unexplained aches and pains
  • Feeling helpless or hopeless
  • Smoking, drinking, or using drugs more than usual
  • Feeling unusually confused, forgetful, on edge, angry, upset, worried, or scared
  • Yelling or fighting with family and friends
  • Experiencing severe mood swings that cause problems in relationships
  • Having persistent thoughts and memories you can’t get out of your head
  • Hearing voices or believing things that are not true
  • Thinking of harming yourself or others
  • Inability to perform daily tasks like taking care of your kids or getting to work or school
 
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How Can We Recover from Mental Illness and Develop and Maintain Positive Mental Health?
Mental health problems are common but help is available. Studies show that most people with mental health problems get better and many recover completely. Unfortunately, people often don’t get the mental health help they need because they don’t know where to start and the associated stigma.
Where to Start
Use these resources to find the help you, your friends, or family need.
Talk to your primary care doctor or another health professional about mental health problems. Ask them to connect you with the right mental health services.
If you do not have a health professional who is able to assist you, use these resources to find help for yourself, your friends, your family, or your students.

Emergency Medical Services - 911
If the situation is potentially life-threatening, get immediate emergency assistance by calling 911, available 24 hours a day.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1‑800‑273‑TALK (8255) or Live Online Chat
If you or someone you know is suicidal or in emotional distress, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Site exit disclaimer. Trained crisis workers are available to talk 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Your confidential and toll-free call goes to the nearest crisis center in the Lifeline national network. These centers provide crisis counseling and mental health referrals.
SAMHSA Treatment Referral Helpline – 1‑877‑SAMHSA7 (1‑877‑726‑4727)
Get general information on mental health and locate treatment services in your area. Speak to a live person, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST.
Help for Veterans and Their Families
Current and former servicemembers may face different health issues than the general public and may be at risk for mental health problems.
Health Insurance and Mental Health Services
Mental health services may be available to you through your health insurance plan. Learn more about your coverage and options.
Participate in a Clinical Trial
The National Institute of Mental Health supports research studies on mental health and disorders. Find out more about participating in a clinical trial.
 
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What is Recovery?
Recovery from mental disorders and/or substance abuse disorders is a process of change through which individuals:

  • Improve their health and wellness
  • Live a self-directed life
  • Strive to achieve their full potential

Four major dimensions support a life in recovery:

  • Health: Make informed, healthy choices that support physical and emotional wellbeing.
  • Home: Have a stable and safe place to live.
  • Purpose: Engage in meaningful daily activities, such as a job or school, volunteering, caring for your family, or being creative. Work for independence, income, and resources to participate in society.
  • Community: Build relationships and social networks that provide support.

Develop a Recovery Plan
If you are struggling with a mental health problem, you may want to develop a written recovery plan.
Recovery plans:

  • Enable you to identify goals for achieving wellness
  • Specify what you can do to reach those goals
  • Include daily activities as well as longer term goals
  • Track any changes in your mental health problem
  • Identify triggers or other stressful events that can make you feel worse, and help you learn how to manage them
 
"It's time to promote appropriate and accessible services for all those in need,” said Cher. She goes on to discuss the importance of talking about mental health problems, and not being afraid to tell someone about a potential problem.
 
 
Sen. Gordon Smith shares his story about mental health problems, and encourages others to “bring mental health issues out of the shadows.
 
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What Is the Stigma Associated with Mental Illness?

According to the American Heritage Dictionary, stigma is “a mark or token of infamy, disgrace, or reproach.”

When we stigmatize someone diagnosed with a psychological disorder, we subsequently brand or characterize them as shameful and deserving of disrespect.

The stigma associated with psychological disorders is caused by myths, misinformation, and fear.

Mental Health Myths and Facts

Can you tell the difference between a mental health myth and fact? Learn the truth about the most common mental health myths.

Mental Health Problems Affect Everyone

Myth: Mental health problems don't affect me.

Fact: Mental health problems are actually very common. In 2014, about:

  • One in five American adults experienced a mental health issue
  • One in 10 young people experienced a period of major depression
  • One in 25 Americans lived with a serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depression

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. It accounts for the loss of more than 41,000 American lives each year, more than double the number of lives lost to homicide. Learn more about mental health problems.

Myth: Children don't experience mental health problems.

Fact: Even very young children may show early warning signs of mental health concerns. These mental health problems are often clinically diagnosable, and can be a product of the interaction of biological, psychological, and social factors.
Half of all mental health disorders show first signs before a person turns 14 years old, and three quarters of mental health disorders begin before age 24.
Unfortunately, less than 20% of children and adolescents with diagnosable mental health problems receive the treatment they need. Early mental health support can help a child before problems interfere with other developmental needs.

Myth: People with mental health problems are violent and unpredictable.

Fact: The vast majority of people with mental health problems are no more likely to be violent than anyone else. Most people with mental illness are not violent and only 3%-5% of violent acts can be attributed to individuals living with a serious mental illness. In fact, people with severe mental illnesses are over 10 times more likely to be victims of violent crime than the general population. You probably know someone with a mental health problem and don't even realize it, because many people with mental health problems are highly active and productive members of our communities.

Myth: People with mental health needs, even those who are managing their mental illness, cannot tolerate the stress of holding down a job.

Fact: People with mental health problems are just as productive as other employees. Employers who hire people with mental health problems report good attendance and punctuality as well as motivation, good work, and job tenure on par with or greater than other employees.
When employees with mental health problems receive effective treatment, it can result in:

  • Lower total medical costs
  • Increased productivity
  • Lower absenteeism
  • Decreased disability costs

Myth: Personality weakness or character flaws cause mental health problems. People with mental health problems can snap out of it if they try hard enough.

Fact: Mental health problems have nothing to do with being lazy or weak and many people need help to get better. Many factors contribute to mental health problems, including:

  • Biological factors, such as genes, physical illness, injury, or brain chemistry
  • Life experiences, such as trauma or a history of abuse
  • Family history of mental health problems

People with mental health problems can get better and many recover completely.

Myth: There is no hope for people with mental health problems. Once a friend or family member develops mental health problems, he or she will never recover.

Fact: Studies show that people with mental health problems get better and many recover completely. Recovery refers to the process in which people are able to live, work, learn, and participate fully in their communities. There are more treatments, services, and community support systems than ever before, and they work.

Myth: Therapy and self-help are a waste of time. Why bother when you can just take a pill?

Fact: Treatment for mental health problems varies depending on the individual and could include medication, therapy, or both. Many individuals work with a support system during the healing and recovery process.

Myth: I can't do anything for a person with a mental health problem.

Fact: Friends and loved ones can make a big difference. Only 44% of adults with diagnosable mental health problems and less than 20% of children and adolescents receive needed treatment. Friends and family can be important influences to help someone get the treatment and services they need by:

  • Reaching out and letting them know you are available to help
  • Helping them access mental health services
  • Learning and sharing the facts about mental health, especially if you hear something that isn't true
  • Treating them with respect, just as you would anyone else
  • Refusing to define them by their diagnosis or using labels such as "crazy"

Myth: Prevention doesn’t work. It is impossible to prevent mental illnesses.

Fact: Prevention of mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders focuses on addressing known risk factors such as exposure to trauma that can affect the chances that children, youth, and young adults will develop mental health problems. Promoting the social-emotional well-being of children and youth leads to:

  • Higher overall productivity
  • Better educational outcomes
  • Lower crime rates
  • Stronger economies
  • Lower health care costs
  • Improved quality of life
  • Increased lifespan
  • Improved family life
 
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What Are the Different Categories of Mental Illness?

Anxiety, Obsessive-Compulsive, and Trauma-Related Disorders

Somatic Symptom and Dissociative Disorders

Depressive and Bipolar Disorders

Eating Disorders

Substance-Related Disorders

Personality Disorders

Sexual Dysfunctions

Schizophrenia and Other Psychotic Disorders

Developmental and Disruptive Behavior Disorders

 
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Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator

Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator By entering your zip code at findtreatment.samhsa.gov, you can quickly find alcohol and drug abuse treatment or mental health treatment facilities in your area. This service is courtesy of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) which works to "to improve the quality and availability of substance abuse prevention, alcohol and drug addiction treatment, and mental health services." (SAMHSA)

 
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