Understanding Mental Illness
Mental illnesses can take many forms, just as physical illnesses do. Mental illnesses are still feared and misunderstood by many people, but the fear will disappear as people learn more about them. If you or someone you know has a mental illness, there is good news: all mental illnesses can be treated. For more information about mental illnesses and their treatments, visit CMHA National.
All of the resources listed below (alongside similar pamphlets and brochures) are available for bulk purchase as well as free download at CMHA National’s Public Shop.
Mood disorders—medical conditions classified by intense, prolonged emotions that affect a person’s functioning and well-being—are some of the most common mental illnesses, yet they often go undiagnosed. This pamphlet contains information regarding the symptoms and treatment of depression and bipolar disorder, the two most common mood disorders. Literature pertaining to four lesser-known examples (post-partum depression, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), dysthymia, and depression with psychosis) is available for download on the CMHA website.
The term “psychosis” refers to a group of disorders (e.g. depression, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia) marked by a loss of touch with reality. Severe symptoms, such as hallucinations or delusions, may result. While onset can be sudden, these disorders are more commonly preceded by early stages with less noticeable symptoms, the signs of which are often mistaken for normal behaviour (particularly in adolescents). Although all stages of psychosis are treatable, early detection is crucial to minimizing the effects of the disorder. This pamphlet details the symptoms of emerging psychosis, and outlines which actions to take when they are spotted.
Too often, societies and peer groups work to convince us that we should be able to handle our own problems; that asking for help is a sign of weakness. But just as you would seek out experts to monitor diabetes, or to set a broken bone, there’s no shame in finding support to treat your mental illness. Getting Help: When & How provides a comprehensive list of support and treatment options, ensuring that you’ll be better informed when it comes to deciding what works for you.
Research has suggested that one in five Canadians will develop a mental illness at some point during their lives, yet it is estimated that almost everyone will be affected by them indirectly. Watching a loved one cope with mental illness can be stressful in its own right. This pamphlet provides information to the friends and family of those affected by mental illness, including tips for retaining your own mental health as well as guides for recognizing and responding to crises.
Nearly everyone will feel anxious, disorganized, or depressed at some point during their lives. But how do you distinguish between a passing phase and a mental illness? This pamphlet details the different classifications of mental illness and their symptoms, in addition to answering common questions about causes, treatments, and who mental illnesses affect (contrary to popular belief, everyone is at risk). While many mental illnesses are lifelong conditions, all can be managed, and both remission and recovery are possible alongside proper treatment and support.
In spite of ongoing efforts to raise awareness, mental illness remains shrouded in misunderstanding. The Myths About Mental Illness pamphlet addresses some of the most frequent false claims surrounding mental illness, providing a clearer picture as to its causes and effects as well as debunking the safety concerns associated with it.
Fears, which serve to protect us from danger, are normal (and even helpful!) components of life. However, they can become debilitating. Both phobias and panic disorder are anxiety disorders characterized by intense, overwhelming, and irrational fears which inhibit functioning or quality of life. This pamphlet contains further information regarding these disorders, including their symptoms, treatments, and sub-categories.
While brief episodes of anxiety or nervousness are perfectly normal, anxiety disorders are classified by periods of intense, ongoing distress that interfere with a person’s daily routine and mental health. The five most common examples of these are Panic Disorders, Phobias, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), and Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). Understanding Anxiety Disorders delves deeper into each of these diagnoses, explaining their causes, symptoms, and treatments.
Listening to the harrowing stories depicted in the media, it would be easy to assume that people with mental illness are among the most violent members of society. In fact, the opposite is true: those suffering from mental illness are two and a half to four times more likely to be victimized by violent acts. This pamphlet details the risk factors for violent behaviour, as well as emphasizing crucial details surrounding crimes and mental illness that the media tends to omit.
Eating disorders and disordered eating behaviours have only recently emerged into the public eye, and much about them remains unspoken. The differences between disordered eating and the occasional quirky eating habit are the purpose and consistency behind the behaviour, as well as whether or not affected individuals maintain a sense of choice with regards to their eating behaviours. Read on to learn more about patterns of disordered eating, major eating disorders, and the differences between the two.