Frequently Asked Questions about Mental Health
Do many people have mental health problems?
Each year in America, about 26% of us experience mental health symptoms that are serious enough to qualify as a mental health disorder. That means about one in four of us will have some type of impairment this year.
Could you be one of them?
Sometimes it’s obvious. We know when we’re having problems. But sometimes, it’s not so easy to tell. See below for some guidelines to help you determine how serious your condition is and whether psychotherapy could be a helpful tool for you.
If I’m diagnosed with a mental health disorder, can I ever get better?
Most people with mental health disorders who are diagnosed and treated will respond well and will live productive lives. Many never have the same problem again, although some will experience a return of symptoms. The important thing is that there is a range of effective treatments for just about every mental disorder.
Does mental health treatment work?
YES! Treatment works. The best treatments for mental illnesses today are highly effective. With treatment, between 70 and 90 percent of individuals experience a significant reduction of symptoms and improved quality of life. This usually includes a combination of mental health medication and psychosocial treatment and supportive therapy.
For children and adolescents, research shows improved functioning and school performance, improved quality of life, and reduction in violence and self-destructive behaviors.
What are some of the warning signs of mental health disorders?
Symptoms of mental disorders vary depending on the type and severity of the condition. Some general symptoms that may suggest a mental disorder include:
- Confused thinking
- Long-lasting sadness or irritability
- Extreme highs and lows in mood
- Excessive fear, worrying or anxiety
- Social withdrawal
- Dramatic changes in eating or sleeping habits
- Strong feelings of anger
- Delusions or hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that are not really there)
- Increasing inability to cope with daily problems and activities
- Thoughts of suicide
- Denial of obvious problems
- Many unexplained physical problems
- Abuse of drugs and/or alcohol
In older children and pre-teens:
- Abuse of drugs and/or alcohol
- Inability to cope with daily problems and activities
- Changes in sleeping and/or eating habits
- Excessive complaints of physical problems
- Defying authority, skipping school, stealing or damaging property
- Intense fear of gaining weight
- Long-lasting negative mood, often along with poor appetite and thoughts of death
- Frequent outbursts of anger
In younger children:
- Changes in school performance
- Poor grades despite strong efforts
- Excessive worrying or anxiety
- Persistent nightmares
- Persistent disobedience and/or aggressive behavior
- Frequent temper tantrums
-Source: The Kim Foundation
What does it mean to have a mental health disorder?
Mental health disorders refer to a wide range of mental health conditions — disorders that affect your mood, thinking and behavior. Examples of mental health disorders include depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, eating disorders and addictive behaviors.
Many people have mental health concerns from time to time. But a mental health concern becomes a mental illness when ongoing signs and symptoms cause frequent stress and affect your ability to function.
A mental health disorder can make you miserable and can cause problems in your daily life, such as at work or in relationships. In most cases, symptoms can be managed with a combination of medications and counseling (psychotherapy).
Source: Mayo Clinic
Mental health disorders are health conditions that disrupt a person’s thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to others, and daily functioning. Just as diabetes is a disorder of the pancreas, mental illnesses are health conditions that often interfere with our ability to cope with the ordinary demands of life.
Some of the more common disorders are depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and anxiety disorders. Symptoms may include changes in mood, personality, personal habits and/or social withdrawal.). Mental health disorders can affect persons of any age, race, religion, or income.
Here are some important facts about mental health disorders and recovery:
- Mental health disorders have a strong biological basis. They typically cannot be overcome through “will power” and are not related to a person’s “character” or intelligence.
- Mental disorders fall along a continuum of severity. Even though mental disorders are widespread in the population, the main burden of illness is concentrated in a much smaller proportion — about 6 percent, or 1 in 17 Americans — who suffer from a serious mental illness. It is estimated that mental illness affects 1 in 4 families in America.
- Mental health disorders usually strike individuals in the prime of their lives, often during adolescence and young adulthood. All ages are susceptible, but the young and the old are especially vulnerable.
- The best treatments for serious mental health disorders today are highly effective; between 70 and 90 percent of individuals have significant reduction of symptoms and improved quality of life with a combination of pharmacological and psychosocial treatments and supports.
- With appropriate effective medication and a wide range of services tailored to their needs, most people who live with serious mental illnesses can significantly reduce the impact of their illness and find a satisfying measure of achievement and independence. A key concept is to develop expertise in developing strategies to manage the illness process.
- Early identification and treatment is of vital importance. By ensuring access to the treatment and recovery supports that are proven effective, recovery is accelerated and the further harm related to the course of illness is minimized.
-Adapted from: National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
If I’m experiencing mental health symptoms, where can I go for help?
You will want to find a professional who can diagnose and treat your specific condition. In most communities, there are many licensed professionals available.
If you live in Cecil County or Harford County in Maryland, you have the option to come to Upper Bay Counseling & Support Services. We can help. We provide a full spectrum of mental health services, including therapy, medication, rehab support groups, school-based services, supported employment, and even housing.