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About Mental Illness

Severe mental illnesses are brain disorders that can be treated and managed effectively if an individual has access to a combination of medication, supportive counseling and community support services, including education and vocational training.

Basic Facts About Mental Illness

  • There are two distinct types of mental illnesses:
    1. Serious to persistent mental illnesses which are caused by psychological, biological, genetic, or environmental conditions.
    2. Situational mental illnesses due to severe stress which may be only temporary
  • Anyone can have a mental illness, regardless of age gender race or socioeconomic level.
  • Mental illnesses are more common than cancer, diabetes, heart disease or AIDS.
  • Mental Illness can occur at any age.
  • 20 - 25% of individuals may be affected by mental illness.
  • 7.5 million children are affected by mental, developmental or behavioral disorders.
  • Nearly two-thirds of all people with a diagnosable mental disorder do not seek treatment
  • With proper treatment, many people affected with mental illness can return to normal, productive lives.
  • Mental illness can -- and should -- be treated

Serious Mental Illnesses

Major Depression

Major depression, the leading cause of disability in US, affects more than 9 million adults in a given year. Nearly twice as many women (6.7 million) as men (3.2 million) are affected by major depressive disorder each year...more about depression

Bipolar Disorder

Affecting more than two million individuals in the US, bipolar disorder causes extreme shifts in mood, energy and functioning...more about bipolar disorder

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Most people at one time or another experience obsessive thoughts or compulsive behaviors. OCD occurs when an individual experiences obsessions and compulsions for more than an hour each day in a way that interferes with his or her daily activities...more about OCD


Schizophrenia affects a person's ability to think clearly, manage his or her emotions, make decisions, relate to others, and distinguish fact from fiction. It affects approximately 2.2 million people in the US. The first signs of schizophrenia typically emerge in the teenage years or twenties...more about schizophrenia

Illnesses Affecting Children

Families know all too well that a growing number of young people are diagnosed with serious mental illnesses...more about childhood onset mental illness

Other mental illnesses

Anxiety disorders, eating disorders, personality disorders, ADHD...more


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The information available on and through the Web site is presented in summary form as a supplement to, and NOT a substitute for, the knowledge, skill, and judgment of qualified psychiatrists, psychologists, physicians and health care professionals. The information on has been obtained from sources believed to be accurate and reliable. However, NAMI makes no warranty as to the accuracy, reliability, or completeness of this information. Should you have any health, medical or disability questions or concerns, please consult a physician or other health care professional. Information accessed on or through is neither complete nor exhaustive and does not cover all disabilities, diseases, illnesses, and physical conditions or their management or treatment. Information accessed on and through is provided "AS IS" and without warranty, express or implied, including, but not limited to, any implied warranty of merchantability or of fitness for a particular purpose. View our  terms of use for more information.