About Mental Health Conditions
Mental illnesses are medical conditions that disrupt 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 health conditions include major depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), anxiety disorders, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and borderline personality disorder. The good news about mental health conditions 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 health conditions cannot be overcome through will power and are not related to a person’s character or intelligence, but they are treatable. Most people diagnosed with a serious mental illness can experience relief from their symptoms by actively participating in an individual treatment plan.
In addition to medication treatment, psychosocial treatment such as cognitive behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy, peer support groups and other community services can also be components of a treatment plan and that assist with recovery. The availability of transportation, diet, exercise, sleep, friends and meaningful paid or volunteer activities contribute to overall health and wellness, including mental illness recovery.
Find out more in our directory of mental health conditions.
Facts About Mental Health
The U.S. Surgeon General reports that 10 percent of children and adolescents in the United States suffer from serious emotional and mental disorders that cause significant functional impairment in their day-to-day lives at home, in school, and with peers.
The World Health Organization has reported that 4 of the 10 leading causes of disability in the US and other developed countries are mental disorders. By 2020, Major Depressive illness will be the leading cause of disability in the world for women and children.
Mental illness usually strike individuals in the prime of their lives, often during adolescence and young adulthood. All ages are susceptible, but the young and the old are especially vulnerable.
Without treatment, the consequences of mental illness for the individual and society are staggering. Untreated mental health conditions can result in unnecessary disability, unemployment, substance abuse, homelessness, inappropriate incarceration, and suicide, and poor quality of life. The economic cost of untreated mental illness is more than 100 billion dollars each year in the United States.
The best treatments for serious mental illnesses today are highly effective; between 70 and 90 percent of individuals have a significant reduction of symptoms and improved quality of life with a combination of pharmacological and psychosocial treatments and supports.
With appropriate effective medication and a wide range of services tailored to their needs, most people who live with serious mental illnesses can significantly reduce the impact of their conditions and find a satisfying measure of achievement and independence. A key concept is to develop expertise in developing strategies to manage the illness process.
Early identification and treatment are of vital importance; by ensuring access to the treatment and recovery supports that are proven effective, recovery is accelerated and the further harm related to the course of illness is minimized.
Stigma erodes confidence that mental disorders are real, treatable health conditions. Our society has allowed stigma and a now unwarranted sense of hopelessness to erect attitudinal, structural and financial barriers to effective treatment and recovery. It is time to take these barriers down.
Learn more facts about the impacts of mental illness.
California Mental Health Statistics
1 in 20 U.S. adults experience serious mental illness each year. In California, 1,243,000 adults have a serious mental illness.
1 in 6 U.S. youth aged 6–17 experience a mental health disorder each year. 396,000 Californians age 12–17 have depression. In California, 1,243,000 adults have a serious mental illness.
5,566,000 adults in California have a mental health condition. That’s more than 6x the population of San Francisco.
More than half of people with a mental health condition in the U.S. did not receive any treatment in the last year. Of the 1,562,000 adults in California who did not receive needed mental health care, 35.3% did not because of cost. 7.8% of people in the state are uninsured.
Californians are over 5x more likely to be forced out-of-network for mental health care than for primary health care — making it more difficult to find care and less affordable due to higher out-of-pocket costs. 9,398,534 people in California live in a community that does not have enough mental health professionals.
More than half of Americans report that COVID-19 has had a negative impact on their mental health. In February 2021, 46.1% of adults in California reported symptoms of anxiety or depression. 21.9% were unable to get needed counseling or therapy.
More in NAMI’s California State Fact Sheet (PDF)
More Information & Resources
Mental illnesses are medical conditions that disrupt a person’s thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to others, and daily functioning. Learn more about the different types of mental illnesses.
Mental Health Facts & Statistics
Learn more about the impacts of mental illness.
Warning Signs of Mental Illness
Find out about warning sign of mental health conditions
Learn more about the ways to help reduce the stigma of mental illness.
Read some personal stories of individuals and families who are facing challenges related to mental illness.
Mental Illness FAQs
Learn more about frequently asked questions about mental illness and SSI.
Navigating a Mental Health Crisis
Learn more about how to navigate times of crisis.
What You Can Do to Prevent Suicide
Learn more about warning signs and risk factors of suicide, and what you can do to support a suicidal loved one in a crisis.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
Crisis Text Line: Text NAMI to 741-741 to connect with a trained crisis counselor to receive free, 24/7 crisis support via text message.
NAMI Helpline: Call 1-800-950-NAMI (6264) M–F, 7 am to 5 pm PT for free mental health info, referrals and support. More from NAMI. Call the NAMI Helpline at 800-950-6264
CalHOPE support during the pandemic
Navigating a Mental Health Crisis