It used to be that people thought having a mental illness was due to some kind of personal weakness. We now know that most mental health disorders – brain disorders - have a biological basis. They are brain diseases that can be diagnosed and treated just like any other physical illness. Having a brain disorder or mental illness is nobody’s fault. It is biology, not a character flaw that causes mental illness.
Mental illness is second only to heart disease as the leading cause of disease in this country. Shame, guilt, and fear make people hide their symptoms. Afraid to speak out about their illness or denying the symptoms, many people with mental illness may become permanently disabled and never seek treatment at all. Nearly two-thirds of all people with diagnosable mental disorders do not seek treatment.
Without treatment the consequences of mental illness for the individual and society are staggering: unnecessary disability, unemployment, substance abuse, homelessness, inappropriate incarceration, suicide, and wasted lives. The economic cost of untreated mental illness is more than 100 billion dollars each year in the United States alone.
Mental illnesses have never been more treatable. With proper treatment, the majority of people with mental illness can return to productive and engaging lives.