What is Mental Illness?

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What is mental illness?





Dear Curious,

When people talk about taking care ourselves, many think about physical health as the end all and be all of health. However, mental and emotional health is just as equally important. Mental illness is an illness or injury affecting one of the most critical organs, the brain. Not to be confused with a brain injury where the brain shows physical signs of damage. It is important to note that many mental illnesses don’t have a cause. Sometimes it is hereditary, a result of too much or too little brain chemicals (dopamine or serotonin), or a result of trauma. Often the “cause” is not relevant, the fact remains that mental illness is a legitimate health concern and should be treated as such. 

It is important to remember that everyone experiences mental illness differently. How I experience depression, for example, may be very different from how you experience depression. Also, we need to be aware that stigma happens. And it sucks. If you do not experience mental illness stigma, that is amazing! But do not let your experience lead you to believe that mental illness stigma does not exist. Not cool, fam. Not okay. To quote Mean Girls: "you can’t sit with us…if you’re gonna be like that."

Now, there are a lot of variations to mental illness, too long of a list to go into here. If you want to read more on the different kinds of mental illnesses, you can check out these related articles



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