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MENTAL HEALTH is just as important as physical health.


What is Mental Health?


The term mental health refers to a state of wellbeing in which the individual:

  • Realizes his or her own abilities
  • Copes with the normal stressors of life
  • Works productively and fruitfully
  • Contributes to his or her society

What does it mean to have a Mental Illness?


Mental illness is a medical condition that disrupts the way a person thinks and feels, as well as their ability to function and relate to 

others. There are more than 200 classified forms of mental illness. Some of the more common disorders are depression, bipolar disorder, dementia, schizophrenia and anxiety disorders. Symptoms may include changes in mood, personality, personal habits and/or social withdrawal.


What are the causes of mental illness?


As with cancer, diabetes and heart disease, mental health problems are often physical as well as emotional and psychological. They may be caused by a reaction to environmental stresses, genetic factors, biochemical imbalances or a combination of these. With proper care and treatment, many individuals learn to cope or recover from a mental illness or emotional disorder. Mental illnesses cannot be overcome by “will power” and are not related to a person’s character or intelligence.


Is mental illness common?


Most people believe that mental disorders are rare and “happen to someone else." In fact, mental disorders are common and widespread. An estimated 54 million Americans suffer from some form of mental disorder in a given year. Most families are not prepared to cope with learning their loved one has a mental illness. It can be physically and emotionally trying and can make us feel vulnerable to the opinions and judgments of others. If you think you or someone you know may have a mental or emotional problem, it is important to remember there is hope and help.


What are some of the early signs of mental illness?


Some of the early signs of mental illness include: an inability to cope with problems and daily activities; frequent outbursts of anger; disinterest in activities that were once positive and productive; changes in sleeping and eating patterns; defiance of authority; suicidal thoughts; changes in school performance; evidence of hyperactivity. Because the first symptoms of mental illness typically occur two to four years before the onset of a full-blown disorder, primary care clinicians play a central role in the prevention, identification, and treatment of mental health problems in children. With national statistics indicating that 11% of children suffer from a significant mental illness, prevention and early intervention efforts are essential to better long-term outcomes.


How serious can mental illness be?


Mental illness falls along a continuum of severity. Even though mental health issues are widespread in the population, the main burden of serious mental illness is concentrated in a smaller population. About 1 in 7 Americans suffer from a serious mental illness.


Once someone has a mental illness can they ever get better?



Most people with mental illness who are diagnosed and treated early will respond well and live productive lives. With appropriate effective medication and a wide range of services tailored to their needs, most people who live with serious mental illnesses can significantly reduce the impact of their illness and find a satisfying measure of achievement and independence. A key concept is to develop expertise in developing strategies to manage the illness process.


How do I find a local support group?


Contact NAMI, National Alliance on Mental Illness, PBC; 561-588-3477


Resources: Mental Health America, National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)

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