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Mental Health Conditions

What is Mental Illness?

A mental illness is a condition that impacts a person’s thinking, feeling or mood may affect and his or her ability to relate to others and function on a daily basis. Each person will have different experiences, even people with the same diagnosis.

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

Mental illness isn’t the result of one event. Research suggests multiple, interlinking causes. Genetics, environment and lifestyle combine to 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 as well as basic brain structure appear to play a role too.

Who is Affected by Mental Illness?

1 in 5 adults experience some form of mental illness every year. Like any other illness, the spectrum spans a wide range varying in severity. 1 in 20 live with a serious mental illness such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. In addition to the person directly living with a mental illness, family, friends and communities are also affected.

50% of mental illnesses begin by age 14 and 75% develop by age 24. The normal personality and behavior changes of adolescence may mimic or mask symptoms of an underlying mental illness. Early engagement and support are crucial.

Mental Health Conditions

Related Conditions


This link will bring you to the NAMI National website for PDF Fact Sheets are also available for download.

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