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Mental Health Info

What Is Mental Illness?

A mental illness is a condition that affects a person’s brain. It causes difficulties in thinking, feeling, behaving and relating to others. People of all ages, races, religions, incomes and educational levels can have mental illnesses.

Mental illnesses are very common. More people have mental illnesses than cancer, lung and heart diseases combined. One in every five adults and one in every five children has a diagnosable mental illness.

The most important fact about mental illnesses is that they can be treated successfully. Today, most people recover from mental illnesses. The recovery rates for mental illnesses are as good as or better than for many physical illnesses. Because people have not understood the facts about mental illnesses, there has been and still is a lot of stigma connected with having a mental illness. This often results in shame and embarrassment that can keep a person from seeking the treatment he or she needs to recover.

How does a person develop a mental illness?

Mental illnesses are not the result of the way a person was raised or the kind of character he or she has. The exact causes of mental illnesses are not known. Research has found that biological factors, like brain chemistry and genetics, play a role in causing mental illnesses. Stresses in a person’s life can also change the way the brain works and may contribute to a mental illness.