Many different aspects of our lives have an impact on our mental health. What exactly does mental health mean? Our mental health is part of our overall health. It includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being and it affects how we think, feel, and act.
Many factors contribute to mental health problems, including:
• Biological factors, such as genes or brain chemistry
• Life experiences, such as trauma or abuse
• Family history of mental health problems
Mental Health Fact or Fiction:
FICTION! THE FACTS: Mental health problems are actually very common. Approximately:
- One in five American adults experienced a mental health issue
- One in 10 young people experienced a period of major depression
- One in 25 Americans lived with a serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depression
Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. It accounts for the loss of more than 41,000 American lives each year, more than double the number of lives lost to homicide.
FICTION! THE FACTS: The vast majority of people with mental health problems are no more likely to be violent than anyone else. Most people with mental illness are not violent and only 3%–5% of violent acts can be attributed to individuals living with a serious mental illness. In fact, people with severe mental illnesses are over 10 times more likely to be victims of violent crime than the general population.
FICTION! THE FACTS: Mental health problems have nothing to do with being lazy or weak and many people need help to get better. Many factors contribute to mental health problems, including:
- Biological factors, such as genes, physical illness, injury, or brain chemistry
- Life experiences, such as trauma or a history of abuse
- Family history of mental health problems
People with mental health problems can get better and many recover completely.
FICTION! THE FACTS: Studies show that people with mental health problems get better and many recover completely. Recovery refers to the process in which people are able to live, work, learn, and participate fully in their communities. There are more treatments, services, and community support systems than ever before, and they work.
FICTION! THE FACTS: Treatment for mental health problems varies depending on the individual and could include medication, therapy, or both. Many individuals work with a support system during the healing and recovery process.
- Higher overall productivity
- Better educational outcomes
- Lower crime rates
- Stronger economies
- Lower health care costs
- Improved quality of life
- Increased lifespan
- Improved family life
Answers To Common Questions:
Mental health isn’t only an issue adults face. Children, teens, and young adults can have mental problems, too. Three out of four people with mental health problems showed signs before they were 24 years old.
Are you having trouble doing the things you like to do or need to do because of how you feel—like going to school, work or hanging out with friends? Are you having a rough day? Have you been feeling down for a while? Everyone goes through tough times, and no matter how long you’ve had something on your mind, it’s important that you talk to someone about it.
Talk to a parent or a trusted adult if you experience any of these things:
- Can’t eat or sleep
- Can’t perform daily tasks like going to school
- Don’t want to hang out with your friends or family
- Don’t want to do things you usually enjoy
- Fight a lot with family and friends
- Feel like you can’t control your emotions and it’s affecting your relationships with your family and friends
- Have low or no energy
- Feel hopeless
- Feel numb or like nothing matters
- Can’t stop thinking about certain things or memories
- Feel confused, forgetful, edgy, angry, upset, worried, or scared
- Want to harm yourself or others
- Have random aches and pains
- Smoke, drink, or use drugs
- Hear voices
People with anxiety disorders respond to certain objects or situations with fear and dread. Anxiety disorders can include obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorders, and phobias. More info »
Behavioral disorders involve a pattern of disruptive behaviors in children that last for at least 6 months and cause problems in school, at home and in social situations. Examples of behavioral disorders include Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD), Conduct Disorder, and Oppositional-Defiant Disorder (ODD).
Eating disorders involve extreme emotions, attitudes, and behaviors involving weight and food. Eating disorders can include anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating. More info »
Substance Use Disorders
Mental health problems and substance abuse disorders sometimes occur together. More info »
Mood disorders involve persistent feelings of sadness or periods of feeling overly happy, or fluctuating between extreme happiness and extreme sadness. Mood disorders can include depression, bipolar disorder, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), and self-harm. More info »
People with personality disorders have extreme and inflexible personality traits that are distressing to the person and may cause problems in work, school, or social relationships. Personality disorders can include antisocial personality disorder and borderline personality disorder.
People with psychotic disorders experience a range of symptoms, including hallucinations and delusions. An example of a psychotic disorder is schizophrenia.
Suicide causes immeasurable pain, suffering, and loss to individuals, families, and communities nationwide. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15-24 year olds. Suicide is preventable. Do not ignore suicidal thoughts in yourself or someone else. Get help immediately. More info »
Trauma and Stress Related Disorders
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can occur after living through or seeing a traumatic event, such as war, a hurricane, rape, physical abuse or a bad accident. PTSD makes you feel stressed and afraid after the danger is over.
You are not alone. Lots of people have been where you are or are there right now. But there are also lots of people who want to help you.
If you’re thinking about harming yourself get help immediately. You can call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Line at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
Another way to get help is by talking to someone you trust. This could be a parent, family member, teacher, school counselor, spiritual leader or another trusted adult, who:
- Gives good advice when you want and ask for it
- Respects your need for privacy so you can tell him or her anything
- Lets you talk freely about your feelings and emotions without judging, teasing, or criticizing
- Helps you figure out what to do the next time a difficult situation comes up
There are many local resources available.