Overview of mental illness

Smiling woman with flowers

Mental illness can affect as many as 50% of adults during some stage in their life.

Depending on the condition and the person, mental health can manifest itself in a variety of ways. The spectrum of mental illnesses is diverse and can include:

  • Anxiety and excessive stress
  • Depression and unstable moods
  • Lack of emotional response
  • Paranoia or extreme phobias
  • Avoidance or disinterest in hobbies or activities

Most commonly, people suffering from a mental illness will experience noticeable effects on mood, difficulty in cognitive processing, and exacerbated emotional issues. This can affect people’s personal, social, romantic and professional lives if left untreated.

In some severe cases, mental illness can cause people to act extremely irrationally or violently, causing harm to themselves or others. Illnesses such as schizophrenia and other personality disorders are at the more serious end of the spectrum and can cause bouts of intense paranoia or phobias.

Research into the area recently means there has been significant improvements in our understanding of mental illness. However, mental health issues are still largely misunderstood in our community and often come with a stigma attached.

In some cases, a lack of understanding will cause people to see mental health issues as a sign of weakness; even something that does not necessarily constitute a serious illness.

What can I do If someone I know has a mental illness?

Unfortunately, many people suffering from mental illness tend to shy away from seeking support, and adopt a defiant attitude toward assistance, as it may be perceived as vulnerability.

This is often a reflection of the environment they live in, and social factors can prevent people, especially young men, from accessing treatment.

Open communication with people suffering from mental health issues is vital to ensure that they are not suffering alone, or in silence. Build a support network with your friends and family so that you can be there to offer to others if and when they need it.

Where can I go for more information about mental illness?

Understanding more about mental health in our community is the best way to help others that may be experiencing difficulties with mental illness. By taking the time to educate yourself further, you will be more likely to identify symptoms, both yourself and others.

For more information about mental illness, or to speak to someone if you think you may have mental health concerns, visit the Samaritans for mental health support services or reach out to us on 1300 656 336.