What is Mental Illness?

Mental illness is a biological brain disorder that disrupts a person's thinking, feelings, mood, ability to relate to others, and daily functioning, sometimes resulting in a diminished capacity for coping with the ordinary demands of life.

Mental illness is a medical disorder, as is cancer, diabetes or heart disease.

Mental illness, most importantly, is treatable, and early treatment means chances for a better recovery; however, many people do not seek treatment because of the stigma that accompanies diagnosis.

Mental illness characteristics may include:

  • Loss of touch with reality
  • Confused or disorganized thinking
  • Unjustified fears, undue anxiety
  • Negative self image and outlook
  • Marked personality change
  • Flat or inappropriate behavior
  • Hallucinations or delusions
  • Prolonged depression
  • General inability to cope with life
Mental illnesses include: major depression, schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic and anxiety disorders, borderline personality disorder.

Mental illness can affect persons of any age, race, religion or socioeconomic status and is found all over the world. In Colorado alone, an estimated 200,000 persons are affected.

Mental illness is NOT the result of personal weakness, lack of character, or a poor upbringing. No one caused it - it is no one's fault.

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