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If someone has a mental health problem, should they abandon their hopes for a fulfilling career?

No. Although mental health problems can negatively affect individuals in a significant manner, with treatment and appropriate work accommodations, even people diagnosed with a serious mental illness have succeeded. Mental illnesses are the same as physical ailments in many regards. Patients are protected by various laws, both on the federal level, and laws that most states have adopted. More importantly, there is nothing to be ashamed of for having a mental illness. Much like a cancer diagnosis is not the fault of the victim, mental illness is something that happens. The key is getting help and working toward living a healthy, managed life.

Are people with mental health problems likely to be dangerous?

No. Research shows that people with mental health problems do not commit significantly more violent acts than do people in the general population. Remember, statistically, 20% of the population will suffer from some type of mental illness during their lifetime. Research does indicate, however, that substance abuse is frequently involved in violent acts committed by individuals with or without other mental health problems. This is probably because substance abuse may require resources that the abuser does not have access to, thus the patient commits violent crimes in order to “score” the substances they are in need of.

Is it true that mental illness can’t be cured?

In many cases, mental illness cannot be “cured” in the sense that it will go away and never return. Most often, the symptoms of mental illness can be eliminated or reduced and managed through treatment with medication, therapy or a combination of both. For example, 80 to 90% of people with depression or anxiety can be helped when properly assessed and treated, though it is still possible that the illness will return at a future time. Depression is one of the mental illnesses that quietly creeps up on the patient. Therefore, steady and reliable treatment is necessary to obtain a “cure”.

Does the prevalence of mental health problems differ among different racial or ethnic groups?

No. The prevalence of mental health problems is similar for all racial and ethnic groups. However, members of racial or ethnic minority groups may experience greater disability from mental health problems because of difficulties in accessing culturally sensitive, good quality care. Furthermore, biases that are prevalent in our society make it appear that culturally diverse groups are more susceptible to mental illness. The more we know about mental disabilities, the more we know this simply is not true.

Is mental illness really an illness?

Yes. The brain is an organ and our body’s organs get diseases. Chemicals in the brain regulate how people think, feel and act. Brain function can become affected if these chemicals are out of balance or disrupted, contributing to mental illness. Thus, mental illness is a real bodily illness, not just something “in your head.” There are times when physical ailments contribute to mental illnesses. Therefore, an entire physical is recommended to get to the bottom of mental illness.

What is mental, emotional or behavioral health?

These terms refer to our thoughts, feelings and actions in regards to how we live with those in combination with challenges and the stresses of everyday life. For years, mental health was the “dirty little secret” of its victims. However, it is estimated that one in five Americans will experience some form of mental illness. Mental health diagnoses range from the common, such as depression and anxiety, to the complex, such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. Mental illnesses, much like physical diseases, once diagnosed, are generally treatable. Professional help in the form of counseling and/or medication can lead to recovery or successful ongoing management of the condition.