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Here are answers to our most frequently asked questions

  • What does it mean to have a mental illness?
    A mental illness is a diagnosable medical condition that affects a person’s mood, feelings, and thought processes. Everyone experiences mental illness differently, even when they share the same diagnosis. Changes in mood, emotions, and thinking are a normal human response to many situations and experiences. However, it is when these changes impair daily functioning that they are no longer considered normal responses and can meet criteria for a diagnosable mental health condition. Impairment in daily functioning can be in regards to family life, school, and social activities. Mental illness often affects a person’s ability to relate to others and cope with the typical demands of life. Some common mental illnesses are: depression, anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Mental illnesses are biologically-based brain disorders and can develop at any age, just like many physical conditions. When a mental illness develops in childhood, the brain is especially vulnerable because it is still developing. Just like physical conditions, such as diabetes, mental illnesses require professional treatment and management of symptoms. With early intervention and proper treatment, many people improve and recover to a point where the illness no longer impairs daily functioning.
  • How common is mental illness?
    Mental illness can affect anyone, regardless of gender, age, race, sexuality, religion, education, or income. Approximately 1 in 5 Americans will develop a mental illness. However, the severity of mental illness differs among conditions and individuals. Many mental illnesses have significant genetic predispositions, meaning mental illness can often be seen in a family history.
  • What is the difference between types of mental health professionals?
    There are many different types of mental health professionals. Depending on diagnosis and severity of the illness, some individuals may require different types of professional support than others. The following mental health professionals can provide counseling and, with proper training, psychological assessments: Clinical Psychologists, School Psychologists, Clinical Social Workers, Licensed Professional Counselors, Mental Health Counselors, Certified Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselors, Peer Specialists, and Marital and Family Therapists. The following are mental health professionals that can provide psychological assessments and evaluations, prescribe medications, and provide therapy: Psychiatrists, Child and Adolescent Psychiatrists, and Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioners.
  • What’s the difference between this website and professional treatment?
    This website provides supportive psychoeducation regarding a variety of common mental and emotional struggles that many adolescents and young adults experience. This website can provide support for all individuals but is not considered a professional treatment intervention for mental illness. Those struggling with mental illness should be seeking professional care and can use this website to build upon the coping and management strategies developed through working with their mental health professionals.
  • What treatment options are available if I choose to seek professional care?
    Treatment options vary based on the type and severity of mental illness. The two main treatment interventions for mental illnesses are psychotherapy and medications. Some individuals will receive both psychotherapy and medications, while others may receive only one. Psychotherapy options vary based on diagnosis and an individual’s specific symptoms. Common types of psychotherapy include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), group therapies, Interpersonal Therapy, and family therapies. Deciding what the proper treatment options are for an individual should be discussed with a mental health professional.
  • Where can I go if I need help?
    This website offers some resources for those wishing to seek further support, including a crisis hotline that can be called if someone feels they require more immediate support over the phone. Inquiring about mental health support from an individual’s Primary Care Provider (PCP) can be a great first-step in seeking a psychological assessment. Many PCPs are trained to treat more common mental illnesses, such as mild depression and anxiety, but can also make referrals to specialized mental health professionals in the community. It is important to mention that if an individual is experiencing severe mental distress, such as thoughts of wanting to end their life and/or harm someone else and are afraid they will act on those thoughts, they should call 911 or go to their local emergency department.
  • Should I tell my parents and/or friends about how I am feeling?
    Struggling with changes in emotions, thoughts, and mood is a deeply personal experience. Many people feel afraid to talk about these experiences with others, even trusted friends and family. This can be a result of many factors, sometimes related to feelings of embarrassment, shame, or fear of judgment. Others simply don’t know how to express or make sense of how they are feeling. It is important to know emotional and mental struggles are something everyone experiences. It is a part of being human. Many people benefit from sharing how they are feeling with a trusted friend, parent, teacher, or mentor. For some, it is easier to share their feelings with someone they don’t know personally. Regardless, if you are truly struggling with feelings and emotions it is important to talk to someone so you can receive necessary help. This website can serve as a medium for expression of emotions, thoughts, and other personal experiences as well.
  • Does resiliency mean I won’t develop a mental illness?
    Mental illnesses are biologically-based brain disorders. There is no way to predict the exact onset of a mental illness but there are ways to build coping strategies to help manage mental illness when it does develop. Resiliency allows humans to build a foundation of coping strength that can improve our ability to manage and recover from disruptive change or overwhelming life obstacles. Resiliency cannot prevent the development of a mental illness, but it can provide an individual with the tools to overcome whatever impacts it may have on their life.