- What is mental health?
- What are mental illnesses?
- How do I know if I need help?
- How do I choose a therapist?
- How do I pay for mental health services?
- How common is depression and how effective are treatments?
- How can I best support a family member or friend with a mental illness?
- What do NAMI, NIMH, and MHA mean?
The successful performance of mental function, resulting in productive activities, fulfilling relationships with other people, and the ability to change and to cope with adversity; from early childhood until late life, mental health is the springboard of thinking and communication skills, learning, emotional growth, resilience, and self-esteem1.
The term that refers collectively to all mental disorders. Mental disorders are health conditions that are characterized by mild to severe alterations in thinking, mood, or behavior1
If your behaviors, thoughts, or feelings interfere with daily functioning, you may want to visit your primary care physician, who may refer you to a therapist or psychiatrist. Such behaviors can include withdrawal, crying spells, substance abuse, outbursts of anger, or changes in sleeping or eating patterns. Because there are over 200 classified forms of mental illness, symptoms for particular disorders vary.2
Learn more about Mental Illnesses
There are different types of mental health professionals. Your family physician or clergy can help you determine which type of therapy is right for you. Once you have chosen a mental health professional, remember that you have ther right to feel comfortable with them. Don't hesitate to contact another professional if you don't feel comfortable with this professional.
Most working Americans are covered under insurance plans through their employer. Unfortunately, mental health services are often not covered at the same rate as other physical health services or not at all.
For those with limited income or who are uninsured, there are still ways to obtain services. Some service providers offer sliding-scale fees, while others can help you set up a payment plan, or may lower their fees if your insurance coverage is minimal. You might also find publicly-funded services at your local community health center. Many churches or synagogues offer pastoral counseling. Self-help or support groups are often free. You might also be eligible for Medicare or Medicaid.3
Visit ABC for Health
, a Wisconsin-based nonprofit public interest law firm, for more information about health care access for children and families, particularly those with special needs or who are at risk.
Clinical depression affects over 19 million Americans each year. Clinical depression is one of the most treatable of all medical illnesses. Treatment for depression, with medication, psychotherapy or a combination of both, is approximately 80 percent effective. 4
Learn about their illness and never tell them to "snap out of it" or "get over it." Keep in mind that their illness is not your fault. And, remember to take care of yourself.
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NAMI - National Alliance for the Mentally Ill
A non-profit organization that helps educate, support, and advocate for families of those with a mental illness.
NIMH - National Institute of Mental Health
A Division of the National Institutes of Health, which is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
MHA - Mental Health America or one of its affiliates, such as the Mental Health America of Wisconsin
A non-profit organization that strives to improve the lives of those with a mental illness through education, information, advocacy, and services.
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1 Mental Health: A Report of the Surgeon General, Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. Public Health Service, 1999.
2 Mental Illness in the Family: Recognizing the Warning Signs & How to Cope, MHA, May 21, 2002, http://www.MHA.org/nfoctr/factsheets/12.cfm.
3 How to Pay for Mental Health Services, Knowledge Exchange Network, Center for Mental Health Services, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
4 MHA factsheet Depression: What You Need to Know. Copyright © 2002 [Wisconsin United for Mental Health]. All rights reserved.