Mental Illnesses
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Mental Illness


What Is Mental Illness?

A mental illness is a medical condition that disrupts a person's thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to others and daily functioning. Mental illnesses can affect persons of any age, race, religion or income. Mental illnesses are not the result of personal weakness, lack of character or poor upbringing.

One in four adults—approximately 60 million Americans—experiences a mental health disorder in a given year. One in 17 lives with a serious mental illness such as schizophrenia, depression or bipolar disorder and about one in 10 children lives with a serious mental or emotional disorder. 


The good news about mental illness is that recovery is possible. Mental illnesses are treatable. Most people diagnosed with a serious mental illness can experience relief from their symptoms by actively participating in an individual treatment plan.

Learn about mental illnesses on NAMI’S national website here



What Are Some of the Signs and Symptoms of Mental Illness?

Signs and symptoms of mental illness can vary depending on the particular disorder and many other factors and circumstances. Signs that suggest a possible mental illness can include changes in personality, mood, behavior, ability to concentrate, and withdrawal/isolation.  Some people also experience unexplained physical problems. The symptoms can come on gradually or the change may be sudden.  Sometimes family, friends, co-workers or teachers are the first to notice that something is wrong. 


If you are experiencing symptoms that interfere with your daily life and affect your ability to function, or if you are concerned about your child or someone you know, the first step is to make an appointment to get an accurate assessment.  These symptoms may be signs of mental illness, or they might be signs of another disease or condition that needs a different type of treatment.


Learn more about specific mental illnesses and symptoms:

Learn more about mental illness in younger children here
A thorough assessment by a professional is very important.  As with any disease, early detection and treatment are important, and in some cases can be lifesaving.



Never ignore these signs:

  • Someone threatening to kill themselves

  • Someone looking for a way to carry out a suicide plan

  • Someone talking, texting, writing about killing themselves/suicide


Take immediate action and call the Maine Crisis Hotline at 1-888-568-1112. This line is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and is answered by people trained to assess suicide risk.  There is no charge to call.