Mental Illness/Impairment

What is a mental illness/impairment?

A mental illness/impairment is a health condition that involves changes in thinking, emotion, or behavior. A mental illness can cause distress and affect someone’s ability to function in work, social, or family activities.

Mental illnesses can affect anyone, regardless of gender, age, income, geography, race, social status, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or background. However, most cases of mental illness begin by age 24.

Mental illnesses can range in degree of severity. Some are mild, only somewhat interfering in daily life, while others can be severe enough to require hospital care.

Examples of mental illnesses include:

  • anxiety disorders
  • eating disorders
  • bipolar disorder
  • attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • depression
  • schizoaffective disorder
  • schizophrenia
  • dissociative disorders
  • posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • psychosis
  • paranoia

How does healthcare impact mental illnesses/impairments?

Mental illnesses can negatively affect someone’s ability to function in work, social, or family activities, in addition to causing general distress. However, most mental illnesses can be treated, providing symptom relief and greater function in daily activities.

Medication and counseling, or a combination of the two, are often used to treat and manage mental illnesses. In cases where the mental illness is severe, the individual affected may need to be admitted into a psychiatric hospital, where they can attend group discussions, counseling, and other supportive activities with mental health professionals.

When necessary, mental care may be provided by a behavioral health specialist, psychologist, psychiatrist, licensed social worker, or other healthcare professionals.