Understanding mental health

Serious mental illness

Like addiction, mental health disorders are treatable medical conditions, not someone’s fault. About half of people with a substance use disorder also experience serious mental illness.

Almost 1 in 5 adults in the USA will experience some form of mental health disorder, and 1 in every 22 is living with a serious mental illness, like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depressive episodes. When a serious mental illness like this affects someone under the age of 18, it’s called a serious emotional disturbance.

A lot of stigma and judgement exists around serious mental illness. People may expect someone with serious mental illness to look visibly different, and they may tell someone they don’t "look ill" or that they should just "get over it" by using willpower.

(Page published: October 2019)