Understanding Mental Illness
What do you think of when you hear that someone has a mental illness? If you are like many people, your reaction may be one of concern, fear, confusion or even aversion. This pamphlet is designed to clear up some of the misconceptions around mental illness and provide you with the facts.
Psychosis is a serious but treatable medical condition that reflects a disturbance in brain functioning. A person with psychosis experiences some loss of contact with reality, characterized by changes in their way of thinking, believing, perceiving and/or behaving. For the person experiencing psychosis, the condition can be very disorienting and distressing. Without effective treatment, psychosis can overwhelm the lives of individuals and families.
Something is wrong with your child. You can’t put your finger on it, but she is acting strangely. Withdrawn and sullen, she won’t get out of bed. She mopes around all day refusing even to take a shower or get dressed; this is really odd considering she used to be so picky about the way she looked. Sometimes she lashes out for no apparent reason, other times she walks around showing no emotion. Your gut is telling you that things are not right but your head refuses to believe this is anything but typical teenage behaviour.
Some teens are troubled by frequent intense and painful emotions. While some are able to deal with these feelings, others react differently to their problems because they have not been taught ways to handle their emotions effectively. They are unable to find the words and the buildup of feelings makes it difficult for them to think clearly. Some teens release this bottleneck by cutting or burning or otherwise hurting themselves. Self injury provides immediate relief, but this is a short-term solution with serious consequences.
Adolescence is a time of dramatic change. The journey from child to adult can be complex and challenging. Young people often feel tremendous pressure to succeed at school, at home and in social groups. At the same time, they may lack the life experience that lets them know that difficult situations will not last forever. Mental health problems commonly associated with adults, such as depression, also affect young people. Any one of these factors, or a combination, may become such a source of pain that they seek relief in suicide.