Mental Illness Resources
From coast to coast and around the globe, mental illness impacts everyone. Every year, mental illness affects nearly 60 million Americans; schizophrenia alone impacts 2.4 million American adults over age 18. Regardless of race, age, religion or economic status, mental illness impacts the lives of at least one in four adults and one in 10 children across the United States.
Mental illnesses, including schizophrenia, are medical conditions that often disrupt a person’s thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to others and daily functioning. People living with mental illness and their families need help and hope; they need a community that supports them, their family and their recovery.
Mental illnesses are treatable. Most people diagnosed with a serious mental illness can experience relief from their symptoms by actively participating in an individual treatment plan.
In addition to medication treatment, psychosocial treatments such as cognitive behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy, peer support groups and other community services can also be components of a treatment plan and can assist with recovery. The availability of transportation, diet, exercise, sleep, friends and meaningful paid or volunteer activities contribute to overall health and wellness, including recovery from mental illness.
Learn more about mental illness, treatment and recovery.
Learn more about schizophrenia, treatment and recovery.
Learn more about psychosis, early intervention and other considerations.
NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness
NAMI is the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for those affected by mental illness. NAMI advocates for access to services, treatment, supports and research. Because mental illness devastates the lives of so many Americans, NAMI works every day to save every life.
NAMI is the foundation for hundreds of NAMI State Organizations, NAMI Affiliates and volunteer leaders who work in local communities across the country to raise awareness and provide essential and free education, advocacy and support group programs for people living with mental illness and their loved ones.
Learn more about how you can help NAMI improve lives and offer help and hope to others.
NAMI’s Free Education and Support Programs
NAMI, NAMI State Organizations and NAMI Affiliates conduct a variety of free educational and support programs in communities across the country. Over the past 20 years, these programs have reached tens of thousands of individuals and families affected by mental illness, establishing NAMI as the national leader in peer-directed education.
With the understanding unique to those with lived experience with mental illness, NAMI’s wide array of education and support group programs are facilitated and taught by trained volunteers.
Learn more about the array of education and support group programs offered by NAMI.
Learn more about the Family-to-Family program, NAMI’s free 12-session course that equips family members with knowledge, insight and coping skills to help their loved one, themselves and their family.
- Mental Illness: The Facts
- One in four adults experiences a mental disorder in any given year. One in seventeen adults has a serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia, major depression or bipolar disorder.
- One in 10 children has a mental health condition that causes significant impairment.
- Half of all lifetime cases of mental illness begin by age 14, three-quarters by age 24.
- Despite effective treatment, there are long delays — an average of 10 years — from the onset of mental illness to treatment. Racial and ethnic communities are less likely to receive needed mental health care and, when they do receive treatment, more likely to receive poorer quality of care.
- Mental illnesses are the leading cause of disability in the U.S. and Canada for ages 15-44.
- Suicide is the third leading cause of death for America’s youth ages 15-24.
- Overall, we lose one life to suicide every 15.8 minutes. The vast majority have an undiagnosed or untreated mental illness.
- Twenty-six percent of homeless persons have a severe mental illness — over four times the rate of the general population.
- An estimated 131,000 veterans are homeless on any given night. Forty-five percent of these veterans live with mental illness.
- For people living with serious mental illnesses, life expectancy is 25 years less than that of other Americans.
Recognizing the sometimes overwhelming nature of mental illness, NAMI offers the following suggestions to assist with the experience:
1. You are not alone. Many people have been there before you in living with mental illness. Sixty million Americans will experience mental illness, and many have given back by writing and sharing their experience and coping strategies from both the individual and family perspectives. Learn and take inspiration from others. Recovery is possible. For families, finding a community, often through NAMI Affiliate support groups and program offerings, offers support that strengthens and provides encouragement as well as understanding.
2. Peer support is learning from someone who has been there. People who have walked in your shoes have a unique perspective to offer. Peer resources are growing across the nation, and service models are recognizing the value of peer specialists. Ask your local department of mental health or community health center where to locate these resources. Check out the NAMI Connection program to find out if these free peer support groups may be available in your community.
3. Self-care is a crucial way to maximize your strengths and resources as you learn to live with psychosis. Careful attention to sleep, good nutrition, stress management and support is essential.
4. Evaluate any potential triggers to bad reactions with your mental illness experience, such as sleep deprivation or substance use, and address the stressors.
5. Stay connected. Shame and anxiety often make it hard to share the experience with others, but living with the stress alone is also a real burden. Selectively share your experience with people who love you and may be wondering if they can support you. Friendship and love make all the difference in the experience of any major symptom of crisis. Isolation compounds the difficulty of living with mental illness.
6. Develop strategies. There are strategies that have been developed to reduce the impact of hallucinations and symptoms of schizophrenia and other mental illnesses in day-to-day experience. These strategies focus on principles of cognitive behavior therapy to examine the meaning and weight one should give to a critical symptom. These experiences can be evaluated, and how one thinks about them makes a difference. Reflect on what you have tried so far, and stay with what works for you. Other ideas include music, engaging in faith-related activities, finding a safe social outlet and engaging in some activity that offers calming benefits or inspirational encouragement.
7. Reality-test your experience with people who care about you. If you are having trouble assessing the reality of an experience, talking it over with another person may help sort it out. It will also reduce the burden of feeling alone with a difficult experience.
8. Stay safe. Mental illness may create a crisis in your life, but there are interventions and treatment services, as well as a community of people who know this experience, to help you. Desperate feelings may lead to suicidal thoughts in some people who first experience this symptom or symptoms. Be sure to have thought through a crisis plan if you have ever felt suicidal, and stay connected to the people, interests and purpose that give your life meaning. Review resources on dealing with thoughts of suicide for additional insights.
9. Don’t be defined by the experience. Keep your strengths and interests strong in your life, and gain inspiration from other sources when establishing your own unique responses.
10. Be sure to get a medical assessment from a health care professional.
For more information on mental illness, visit the NAMI website at www.nami.org or contact the NAMI HelpLine at (800) 950-NAMI (6264) or via email at email@example.com.