Much of the following facts about mental illness is provided by The NAMI National organization. Spanish and other language translations of this information may also be available from the NAMI National website.

NOTE: The information provided on this page is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to substitute for a medical professional’s opinion, diagnosis, and/or treatment plan.

Learn More About Mental Health Conditions

A mental illness is a condition that affects a person’s thinking, feeling or mood. Such conditions may affect someone’s ability to relate to others and function each day. Each person will have different experiences, even people with the same diagnosis.

Recovery, including meaningful roles in social life, school and work, is possible, especially when you start treatment early and play a strong role in your own recovery process.

A mental health condition isn’t the result of one event. Research suggests multiple, linking causes. Genetics, environment and lifestyle influence whether someone develops a mental health condition. A stressful job or home life makes some people more susceptible, as do traumatic life events like being the victim of a crime. Biochemical processes and circuits and basic brain structure may play a role, too.

Approximately 1 in 5 adults experiences a mental health condition every year in America. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 1 in 25 adults live with a serious mental illness such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder and 1 in 5 children ages 13-18 years, have or will have a serious mental health condition. When a person experiences mental health issues, it affects not only the individual, but also his/her family, friends and the community.

Half of mental health conditions begin by age 14, and 75% of mental health conditions develop by age 24. The normal personality and behavior changes of adolescence may mimic or mask symptoms of a mental health condition. Early engagement and support are crucial to improving outcomes and increasing the promise of recovery.