General QuestionsWhat is mental illness?
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. Most people diagnosed with a serious mental illness can succeed in life with an individualized treatment plan and live in recovery.
Serious mental illnesses include but are not limited to: major depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, several anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, and borderline personality disorders.
- in danger of physical injury,
- out of control,
- talking about suicide,
- posing a threat to the safety of other persons,
…you need to know what steps to take.
Contact 9-1-1 or the DuPage County Crisis Line at (630) 627-1700.
Consult ahead of time with a mental health professional or with the DuPage County Health Department (Access and Crisis Center 630-627-1700) so that you will know how to obtain services when you need them. Keep a list of important information by the telephone.
For more info, please visit: http://www.treatmentadvocacycenter.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=209&Itemid=144.
While some medications affect symptoms in a few days, others require continuous dosage for four to six weeks before evaluation of their effectiveness can be validly determined. It is necessary to continue taking the medications, even though symptoms have improved.
Illinois-specific legal information and referrals resources include Illinois Legal Aid, and the DuPage County Legal Aid Service sponsored by the DuPage County Bar Association.
Youth FAQ in the ClassroomsHow do you get mental illness?
- Inherited traits: Mental illness is more common in people who have a biological family member with a mental illness. You may already have a genetic vulnerability to developing a mental illness, and a stressful or traumatic life experience may trigger the actual illness itself.
- Biological factors: In addition to inherited traits, outside forces have been linked to mental illness—for example, traumatic brain injury or exposure to viruses or toxins while in the womb.
- Life experiences: Sometimes challenges or traumatic experiences in your life, such as the loss of a loved one, being assaulted or prolonged high stress can play a role in triggering mental illness. Other life experiences that leads to low self-esteem or a history of sexual or physical abuse can also be a factor. Certain life experiences can also lead to unhealthy patterns of thinking linked to mental illness, such as pessimism or distorted ways of thinking.
- Brain chemistry: Referred to as biochemical causes, and are changes which occur in the brain and are thought to affect mood and other aspects of mental health. Naturally occurring brain chemicals called neurotransmitters play a role in some mental health conditions. In some cases, hormonal imbalances can affect mental health. Doctors think that inherited traits, life experiences and biological factors can all affect the brain chemistry linked to mental illnesses.
Continue to urge your friend to seek help. Facing that you might have mental health issues can be very challenging for many reasons. You could offer to go with him to talk to someone. There are also several websites and phone numbers on the NAMI website that your friend can use to get information and support anonymously.
It’s difficult to say that any of the illnesses are worse than another. Each person and their experience with mental illness is unique and can be very challenging at times. Also, realize that all mental health conditions are on a spectrum. Some can be very mild and others very severe like any other physical illness someone might get.
Don’t stop trying to talk to them. But know that it’s not that they don’t care about you. They likely don’t have the education that you and your friends are getting in health class and might not really understand. You could try talking to a counselor or anyone at your school, your doctor or another caring adult in your life. In addition, you can get advice anonymously from kids your age that have been there, online at ReachOutHere.org or you can text or call the teen line that’s listed in the resources we cite for you. They will be able to support you as you continue the conversation with your family and the process of seeking help.
First, that’s wonderful that you want to help your friend. You can encourage her to talk to another adult such as a teacher, coach or counselor. There are also several websites and phone numbers sited here that you and your friend can use to get information, ideas on how to help yourself or a friend and receive support anonymously. If your friend mentions having suicidal thoughts, talk to them about it, listen without judgment, but most importantly, TELL a trusted adult as soon as possible. It is not a betrayal of your friendship to get help for your friend during this critical time. When I asked my friends from high school why they didn’t tell anyone when I told them I was having suicidal thoughts, they all said they now wished they had risked me being upset with them for telling someone in order to get me help much earlier.
ACT= Acknowledge your friend is suffering, Care by telling that you are concerned for their well-being, and Tell a trusted adult immediately.
It depends on the individual, the severity of their symptoms and whether or not other forms of treatment are effective at helping the individual manage their symptoms. The decision to stop taking medication is definitely one that should only be made in consultation with your doctor.
Also, many people try stopping their medication when they begin to feel better—but often the symptoms came back. It’s frustrating; with most illnesses, you stop taking medication once you feel better. However, with mental illness, many people learn that if they feel better, it just means they have found the right treatment combination and if they want to keep feeling better, they need to continue taking their medication.
Think about a time you took medication for a physical issue such as a headache. There’s a good chance once the symptoms disappeared, you quit taking the medication. Right? The same thing happens when people take medication for a mental illness. An individual may believe (or want to believe) that they are better, which sometimes leads them to stop taking their medication.
About half of all individuals with mental illness began to show symptoms by age 14. Sometimes people can start to show signs as early as four or five. With about 75 percent of all individuals beginning to show symptoms by age 24, it is most common for mental illness to begin sometime before an individual reaches their late 20s. However, although people might start experiencing symptoms early in life, it commonly takes many years, even decades for some people to seek treatment. Early intervention makes for easier friendships, school work, and family harmony.
As a parent, I wish I would have known more about mental illness and been able to identify the signs my son was showing earlier. I could have been a stronger advocate for my son by giving more details to his psychiatrist that could have been very helpful.
That’s a really complicated question to answer; there were a lot of reasons. I was feeling beyond miserable and I didn’t think I would feel better, ever. At the time, I wasn’t able to see that my situation was temporary. I’m not sure if I was sorry it didn’t work in that moment, but once I got help and began to feel better, I was incredibly grateful to be here and to be healthy. Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem….there is help and hope!