Mental Illness

  • People living with mental illness are your family members, friends, coworkers, role models, teachers, health care professionals, shop clerks. They are the people you interact with every day. Some may be vocal about their illness, while others may attempt to hide it for fear of discrimination or shame of stigma.
  • Mental illness is not caused by personal weakness or negative thinking, and cannot be treated by a “change in attitude.”
  • Like diabetes, cancer, and heart disease, mental illnesses are often biologically based disorders and may be caused by a reaction to environmental stresses, genetic factors, biochemical imbalances, or a combination of these.
  • For some, a mental illness is a lifelong condition. However, proper treatment enables many people with a mental illness to lead fulfilling and productive lives.
  • Mental illness affects people of all ages, races, ethnicities, and income levels.

Mental Illness in the US

  • 57.7 million – one-in-four – people live with mental illness of some sort across the country.
  • About 20% of children have a diagnosable mental illness during a given year and almost 5 million children live with a serious mental illness (one that significantly interferes with their day-to-day life).
  • Mental illness is second leading cause of disability after heart disease.
  • Mental health conditions are the second leading cause of workplace absenteeism.

Living with Mental Illness

  • People with mental illness are more likely to be the victims of violent crime than perpetrators.
  • To live healthy, fulfilled lives, people with mental illness have the same needs as those without mental illness: food, affordable and decent housing, meaningful work, healthcare coverage, access to a good education, and acceptance by family and peers.
  • People living with mental illness experience discrimination every day at work, in school, with housing, and in their communities. The stigma of mental illness can be so strong that it leads people to avoid socializing with, employing, or living near persons who have a mental disorder.
  • Of people living with serious mental illness, fewer than half seek treatment; and those who do expend considerable effort keeping their treatment a secret for fear of discrimination.