Serious Mental Illness
Serious mental illness (SMI) is a widespread but misunderstood condition. It refers to disorders which are severe enough to significantly impair someone’s functioning and quality of life. Examples include schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression.
The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that 5% of people suffer from serious mental illness; however, some estimates are higher.
Treatment for serious mental illness varies depending on the type and severity. It may include therapy, medication, social support and education about how to manage your symptoms.
Early diagnosis and intervention is key for successful recovery from serious mental illness. If you or someone close to you is exhibiting symptoms like insomnia, eating irregularly, losing interest in activities once enjoyed, mood or anxiety changes or social withdrawal, it’s essential that they seek assistance immediately.
Individuals diagnosed with a serious mental illness are at increased risk for negative outcomes such as homelessness, employment loss, substance abuse issues, incarceration and suicide. Without treatment these outcomes can have devastating economic, social and societal costs.
People suffering from serious mental illness share many similarities, yet their experiences, needs and goals for treatment differ. Therefore, individuals must find the treatment or combination of treatments that works best for them individually.