T H E R E I S H O P E & H E L P
What Is Mental Illness?
Bipolar Disorder—an illness in which a person has
a pattern of emotional highs and lows. In between
Mental illness is a class of diseases
the highs and lows, the person usually returns to a
that affects the way a person thinks,
normal state. Bipolar disorder affects about one to
five percent of adults in the United States.1
feels and relates to others and to the
world around them. Mental illness is
Mental Illness Facts
common and widespread. Around 44
? Mental illness is more common than cancer,
million Americans suffer from some
diabetes or heart disease.
? Each year, 23 percent of American adults suffer
form of mental illness each year.
from a mental illness.
? Nine to13 percent of children and teens have a
Mental illness affects men, women and
mental illness. This can hinder development and
children of all races and economic groups.
Mental illness is not the result of personal
? At any given time, people with mental illnesses fill
weakness, lack of character or poor
25 percent of all hospital beds.
? Over 198,000 people with a mental illness are
It is difficult for families when they learn that
a loved one has a mental illness. It can be
physically and emotionally trying. It can also
Mental Illness and Stigma
make you feel ashamed. Remember, you are
not alone and a mental illness is no one’s “fault.”
Sadly, instead of receiving compassion and
acceptance, people with mental illness may
If you think you or someone you know may have
experience hostility, discrimination and stigma. Below
a mental or emotional problem, it is important to
are some ways that you can fight stigma regarding
remember there is hope and help.
Types of Mental Illness
? Talk about your experiences. Sharing what
you are going through can show other people
There are many forms of mental illness. Common
that mental illness is nothing to be embarrassed
about. Talking can raise awareness and help
educate others about the issues.
Depression—feelings of sadness linger and start to
? Volunteer and support a mental illness
affect your daily routine. Each year more than 19
organization. People with mental illness can
million Americans suffer from this disease.
lead productive lives. Think about helping an
Anxiety Disorders—a group of emotional illnesses.
organization that’s dedicated to improving the
They include phobias, panic attacks, stress disorders
lives of people with mental illnesses.
and obsessive-compulsive behavior. Each year more
? Address myths and misconceptions. Many
than 19 million Americans are affected.
people have the wrong facts and ideas regarding
mental illness. Be sure to correct their way of
Schizophrenia—a person may have a hard time
thinking by providing accurate information. It may
control ing his or her feelings or knowing what is real.
help change what the person says and does in
This disease affects over 2 mil ion American adults.
1 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research
If You Need Help
? Take a time out. Remember that you need some
time for yourself, too. Taking time out can help keep
There are many organizations that help people with
things in perspective and prevent you from becoming
mental illnesses. Where you go for help depends on who
angry or upset. In order to help others, you have to be
has the problem (a child or an adult) and the type of
physically and emotionally healthy as well.
symptoms. These resources can put you on the right path
Sources: National Mental Health Association,
National Alliance for the Mentally Ill,
National Institute of Mental Health
? Child guidance counselor.
? Social worker, counselor, or family therapist.
? Psychiatrist or psychologist.
? Hotlines or crisis centers.
? Organizations such as the National Alliance for
the Mentally Ill and the National Mental Health
If you think that you may be suffering from
a mental il ness, cal your health care provider or
How Family Members Can Cope
your program’s toll-free number.
With proper care and treatment, many individuals with
GET HELP RIGHT AWAY IF YOU
mental illness learn to cope or recover. Yet the effect on
ARE THINKING OF HURTING
YOURSELF OR OTHERS
family members can vary. Learning that a loved one has
a mental illness can be physically and emotionally trying.
Below are a few suggestions to help family members
? Accept your feelings. Families who have a loved one
with a mental illness often worry about what other
people will think and wonder why their loved one
became ill. It’s important to understand that these
feelings are normal and common.
? Educate yourself. Find out al you can about your loved
one’s il ness by reading and talking to mental health
professionals. The more you know and understand
about the il ness, the better you can deal with it. Be sure
to share what you’ve learned with others.
? Seek support and counseling. Reach out to friends
and family members to talk about what’s going on. If
you feel you cannot discuss your situation with loved
ones, find a self-help or support group. These groups
allow you to talk to other people who are experiencing
the same type of issues. Therapy can also be helpful.
A mental health professional can suggest ways to cope
and better understand your loved one’s illness.
This publication is designed solely for informational purposes to promote the well-being of our members. It is not intended to provide the reader clinical advice nor be a substitute for
the recommendations of a trained physician, counselor or clinician. Resources included in this publication do not constitute endorsement by Magellan Health Services.
© 2003 Magellan Health Services, Inc.