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What is Mental Illness?


A mental illness is a medical condition that disrupts a person’s thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to others and daily functioning. Just as diabetes is a disorder of the pancreas, mental illnesses are medical conditions that often result in a diminished capacity for coping with the ordinary demands of life.

Serious mental illnesses include major depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and borderline personality disorder. The good news about mental illness is that recovery is possible.

Mental illnesses can affect persons of any age, race, religion or income. Mental illnesses are not the result of personal weakness, lack of character or poor upbringing. 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.

Learn more about treatment and services that assist individuals in recovery.

Find out more about a specific mental illness:

Find out more about conditions sometimes related to mental illness:

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Facts & Figures

One in five adults or roughly 600,000 Iowans live with some form of mental illness. About 37,000 grapple with serious mental illness daily. It’s time to provide support, educate our peers, and end the stigma of living with a mental illness.

Get national statistics from the NAMI national website.

Also, visit their fact sheet library for an extensive collection of graphs, statistics and easy to digest information on mental illness.



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