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Understanding Mental Illness

Mental illnesses can take many forms, just as physical illnesses do. Mental illnesses are still feared and misunderstood by many people, but the fear will disappear as people learn more about them. If you, or someone you know, has a mental illness, there is good news: all mental illnesses can be treated.
In this section, you will learn about mental illnesses – which can also be called psychiatric disorders – and their treatment. You will also find helpful resources that provide more information to further your understanding of mental illness.

A Sibling’s Guide to Psychosis: Information, Ideas and Resources

As part of a national project to raise awareness about first-episode psychosis and support the needs of families affected by the illness, the Canadian Mental Health Association has developed this sibling resource guide – a guide intended to provide information and support to teens and young adults who have a brother or sister experiencing psychosis.

An Introduction to Early Psychosis Intervention

Prepared as part of the CMHA National’s project Youth and Mental Illness: Early Intervention, the purpose of this document is to provide an overview of early psychosis intervention concepts and recent findings. It is intended as a user-friendly introduction and does not attempt to provide a critical analysis of the conceptual and methodological complexities that are inherent to the field. Interested readers are advised to consult the referenced literature for more in-depth reading on various aspects of early psychosis intervention.

Anxiety Disorders

We all feel nervous or worried at times. This anxiety can be a helpful feeling when it motivates us or warns us of danger. An anxiety disorder, on the other hand, causes unexpected or unhelpful anxiety that seriously impacts our lives, including how we think, feel, and act.

Children and Attention Deficit Disorders

Basic information about the impact of ADD and ADHD on the child and the potential emotional, social and family problems that may result.

Children, youth and depression

While we may think of low mood or other challenges as adult problems, they can affect people at any age. Children and teens can experience mental illnesses like depression. Sometimes it can be difficult for adults to understand how difficult children’s problems can be because we look at their problems through adult eyes. But the pressures of growing up can be very hard for some children. It’s important that we remind ourselves that while their problems may seem unimportant to us, they can feel overwhelming to young people. It’s important to take depression in young people seriously.

Depression and Bipolar Disorder

We all experience changes in our mood. Sometimes we feel energetic, full of ideas, or irritable, and other times we feel sad or down. But these moods usually don’t last long, and we can go about our daily lives. Depression and bipolar disorder are two mental illnesses that change the way people feel and make it hard for them to go about their daily routine.

Early Psychosis Intervention

In the “What is Psychosis?” section, we go into more detail about the causes and treatment of psychosis. In this section, we concentrate on the importance of identifying the early warning signs of a developing psychoses, getting an assessment and initiating treatment to reduce the impact of the episode.

Eating Disorders

Every day, we are surrounded by different messages from different sources that impact the way we feel about the way we look. For some, poor body image is a sign of a serious problem: an eating disorder. Eating disorders are not just about food. They are often a way to cope with difficult problems or regain a sense of control. They are complicated illnesses that affect a person’s sense of identity, worth, and self-esteem.


Loss is one of life’s most stressful events. It takes time to heal, and everyone responds differently. We may need help to cope with the changes in our lives. Grief is part of being human, but that doesn’t mean we have to go through the journey alone.

Mental Illness Glossary

Some common mental illness terms and definitions.