Learn More Mental Illness:


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.

With proper treatment, people can realize their full potential, cope with the stresses of life, work productively and meaningfully contribute to the world. Without mental health we cannot be fully healthy.

Yet, understanding mental health isn't only about being able to identify symptoms and having a name for these conditions. There is a complicated system involving local communities, the federal government, research institutions, private companies and other pieces that are all trying to fit together. 

Each piece contributes to our understanding of mental health—if one is missing, the picture isn't complete.

So.... What is a 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.

Recovery, including meaningful roles in social life, school and work, is possible, especially when you start treatment early and play a strong role in your own recovery process.

A mental health condition isn’t the result of one event. Research suggests multiple, linking causes. Genetics, environment and lifestyle influence whether someone develops a mental health condition. A stressful job or home life makes some people more susceptible, as do traumatic life events like being the victim of a crime. Biochemical processes and circuits and basic brain structure may play a role, too.

One in 5 adults experiences a mental health condition every year. One in 17 lives with a serious mental illness such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. In addition to a person's directly experiencing a mental illness, family, friends and communities are also affected.

Half of mental health conditions begin by age 14, and 75% of mental health conditions develop by age 24. The normal personality and behavior changes of adolescence may mimic or mask symptoms of a mental health condition. Early engagement and support are crucial to improving outcomes and increasing the promise of recovery. *

Types of Mental Illness:

Some Related Conditions:


Click here to download Children & Teens Infographic

Click here to download Mental Health Facts in America


Click here to download Multicultural Mental Health Facts Infographic

Click here to download Taking Charge Infographic

Click here to download Getting the Right Start Infographic

Click here to download How to Help a Friend Infographic

Click here to download Mental Health Parity Infographic

Other Useful Tools:

*Research and links from the Learn More About Mental Illness, Types of Mental Illness and Infographics section are extracted from NAMI National's website:


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