Mental illnesses are health conditions that disrupt a person’s thoughts, emotions, relationships, and daily functioning. They are associated with distress and diminished capacity to engage in the ordinary activities of daily life.
Mental illnesses fall along a continuum of severity: some are fairly mild and only interfere with some aspects of life, such as certain phobias. On the other end of the spectrum lie serious mental illnesses, which result in major functional impairment and interference with daily life. These include such disorders as major depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder, and may require that the person receives care in a hospital.
It is important to know that mental illnesses are medical conditions that have nothing to do with a person’s character, intelligence, or willpower. Just as diabetes is a disorder of the pancreas, mental illness is a medical condition due to the brain’s biology.
Similarly to how one would treat diabetes with medication and insulin, mental illness is treatable with a combination of medication and social support. These treatments are highly effective, with 70-90 percent of individuals receiving treatment experiencing a reduction in symptoms and an improved quality of life. With the proper treatment, it is very possible for a person with mental illness to be independent and successful.
Although the exact source of mental illness is not known, research points to a mix of genetic, biological, psychosocial, and environmental factors as being the root of most conditions.
Since this combination of causes is complex, there is no sure way to prevent mental illness. However, you can reduce your risk by practicing self-care, seeking help when you need it, and paying attention to early warning signs.
Where you go for help will depend on the nature of the problem and/or symptoms and what best fits you. Often, the best place to start is by talking with someone you trust about your concerns, such as a family member, friend, clergy, healthcare provider, or other professionals. Having this social support is essential in healing from mental illness, and you will be able to ask them for referrals or recommendations for trusted mental health practitioners. Search for mental health resources in your area.
Secondly, there are people and places throughout Nebraska that provide services to talk, to listen, and to help you on your journey to recovery. Thirdly, many people find peer support a helpful tool that can aid in their recovery. There are a variety of organizations that offer support groups for consumers, their family members, and friends. Some support groups are peer led while others may be led by a mental health professional.
When healing from mental illness, early identification and treatment are of vital importance. Based on the nature of the illness, there are a range of effective treatments available. For any type of treatment, it is essential that the person affected is proactive and fully engaged in their own recovery process.
Many people with mental illnesses who are diagnosed and treated respond well, although some might experience a return of symptoms. Even in such cases, with careful monitoring and management of the disorder, it is still quite possible to live a fulfilled and productive life.
Many people find peer support a helpful tool that can aid in their recovery. There are a variety of organizations that offer support groups for consumers, their family members and friends. Some support groups are peer-led, while others may be led by a mental health professional.