Mental illness: FAQs
Understanding mental health

Mental illness: FAQs

FAQs about mental illness

White Swan Foundation

Q

What is a mental illness?

A

A mental illness refers to a health condition that affects a person emotionally, psychologically, and behaviourally. Like a physical illness, a mental illness also requires professional treatment. But, unlike some physical illnesses, mental illnesses are caused by a combination of biological changes, psychological factors and the socio-economic circumstances of a person.

Q

How are mental illnesses treated?

A

They are treated with a combination of therapy and medication depending on the severity of the illness. Some may not even require medication, and can be addressed with psychotherapies like cognitive behavioral therapy.

Q

Who should I consult if I have a mental illness?

A

If you suspect that you or someone you know has a mental illness, you should consult a mental health professional. They could be a counselor, psychologist or psychiatrist.

A counselor is trained in the art of listening and uses their skills to help the person analyze their problems, and find a rational solution. If the counselor observes that counseling isn't addressing the person's needs because the underlying condition is severe and may need treatment, they refer the person to a mental health expert for diagnosis, treatment, therapy, or medication, as the case may be.

A psychologist has a degree in psychology and is an expert in human behavior. They use scientific methods to study the factors that influence people's thoughts, perceptions, emotions, and actions. They use evidence-based strategies and interventions to help people overcome challenges and cope with life issues such as relationship problems, parenting issues, challenges in adolescence, lifestyle effects on health and chronic illness.

A psychiatrist is a physician who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of mental health problems. During their extensive medical training, they’re trained to understand the brain's functions, and the complex relationship between the body and brain. They are best qualified to distinguish between physical and psychological causes of mental and physical distress, and are also the only mental health professionals who can prescribe medication..

Q

Are mental illnesses curable?

A

Depending on the cause of the mental illness, it could be curable. Nonetheless, mental illnesses can be treated and managed with therapy and medication. Some mental illnesses like bipolar disorder and schizophrenia require medication while illnesses like depression and anxiety disorders can sometimes be treated with just therapy.

Remember -

  • Mental illness has nothing to do with the person’s ‘mental strength’

  • Mental illnesses are non-communicable 

  • Anyone can have a mental illness at any point in time

  • Mental illnesses are treatable

  • A person with mental illness needs the support from their loved ones and the community they live in, to recover

Click here to read about caring for yourself when you have a mental illness

Click here to get a brief introduction on mental health

White Swan Foundation
www.whiteswanfoundation.org