Mental illness

Mental illnesses are conditions and disorders that affect our mood, thinking and behaviour. Examples include Depression, Anxiety, Schizophrenia, Addiction and Eating Disorders.

When someone has a mental illness it can, just like a physical illness, often be treated (so a person recovers completely) or managed by treatment or medication (to reduce the impact of an illness on a persons’ life).

Where the mental illness is managed sometimes people can manage their symptoms and lead a life virtually unaffected by the condition, sometimes however, the illness or condition can be chronic – that means it is long term, and the person may need a lot of support and face real changes in their lives for a period of time.

Signs & Symptoms

There are a number of signs and symptoms a person with a mental health problem or a mental illness may experience. What’s confusing is loads of the things listed are things that can happen to any of us any day – especially when people are going through puberty and changes in life – we can have many of these feelings without being unwell! (just like you can have a stomach ache or a headache without it meaning you have a serious medical condition)

Signs and symptoms can be physical or they can be emotional, a one off experience or a regular occurrence.

Experiencing any of these things does not mean someone has a metal health problem, however, if one of these things or many of these things are happening, and its affecting a persons' life or confusing or scaring them, they should definitely speak to someone about what’s happening so they can help them make sense of it.

  • Weight change or change in appetite
  • Feeling worried, anxious or stressed
  • Wild mood swings
  • Losing enthusiasm and energy – not enjoying things they normally do
  • Seeing, hearing or feeling unusual or scary things
  • Being unable to sleep or to get out of bed
  • Feeling urges to do things that aren’t healthy, safe or sensible
  • Acting out of character
  • Feeling strange or disconnected
  • Stopping seeing people and doing things and hiding away
  • Feeling hopeless, useless, unlovable or worthless
  • Feeling like harming themselves or someone else
  • Starting to use drugs, alcohol or cigarettes or increasing how much they use
  • Losing it – losing control, emotional outbursts, constant crying
  • Uncontrollable anger or anxiety.

To find out more about things that can affect our emotional well-being, as well as to learn more info about specific mental health problems, mental illnesses and treatment see our A-Z section.