Living with a Mental Health Condition
If you have a mental health condition, you’re not alone. 1 in 5 American adults experience some form of mental illness in any given year. And across the population, 1 in every 20 adults is living with a serious mental health condition such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or long-term recurring major depression.
As with other serious illnesses, mental illness is not your fault or that of the people around you, but widespread misunderstandings about mental illness remain. Many people don’t seek treatment, or remain unaware that their symptoms could be connected to a mental health condition. People may expect a person with serious mental illness to look visibly different from others, and they may tell someone who doesn’t “look ill” to “get over it” through willpower. These misperceptions add to the challenges of living with a mental health condition.
Every year people overcome the challenges of mental illness to do the things they enjoy. Through developing and following a treatment plan, you can dramatically reduce many of your symptoms. People with mental health conditions can and do pursue higher education, succeed in their careers, make friends and have relationships. Mental illness can slow us down but we don’t need to let it stop us.
Family Members and Caregivers
When a friend or family member develops a mental health condition, it’s important to know that you’re not alone. Many Americans have experienced caring for a person with mental illness. 1 in 25 Americans lives with a serious mental health condition. Mental health professionals have effective treatments for most of these conditions, yet in any given year, only 60% of people with a mental illness get mental health care.
As a result, family members and caregivers often play a large role in helping and supporting them. Millions of people have experienced the thoughts and questions you might be having now.
You may be trying to help a family member who doesn’t have access to care or doesn’t want help. Or you may want to learn how to support and encourage someone who has been hospitalized or experienced a similar mental health crisis.
We realize that the challenges of mental illness do not only affect an individual’s family members but also friends, teachers, neighbors, coworkers and others in the community. Here we use the terms family member and caregiver interchangeably to refer to someone giving emotional, financial or practical support to a person with a mental health condition. Whether you’re providing a lot of assistance or very little, the information here can help you better understand the issues that you might face.
Teens & Young Adults
Mental health conditions are common among teens and young adults. 1 in 5 live with a mental health condition—half develop the condition by age 14 and three quarters by age 24.
For some, experiencing the first signs can be scary and confusing. Discussing what you are going through with others is an important first step to getting help. Speaking up and asking for help is a sign of strength. You will be amazed by the support you get simply by asking.
A mental health condition isn’t your fault or your family’s fault—it develops for complicated reasons that researchers are only starting to understand. But we understand a lot about how you can live well with a mental health condition—and you have the power to take the steps necessary to improve your mental health.
Mental health services and supports are available and the earlier you access them the better. Many teens and young adults live full lives with a mental health condition. More and more teens and young adults are speaking out about their experiences and connecting with others. Check out Ok2Talk to see what others are saying. You are not alone—there are others out there going through the same things you are.