What Is Mental Illness? What Are the Signs of Mental Illness?
At its core, mental illness is a disease or a series of health conditions affecting one’s mental state. Mental health problems may develop as a result of external factors (i.e. one’s environment) which include, but are not limited to, trauma and situations of extreme stress. Associated problems include distress and problems functioning in social, work and/or family activities . Other signs of developing mental health issues include:
- Feeling sad, irritable, anxious
- Loss of pleasure in activities one previously enjoyed
- Fatigue and decreased energy.
Who Does It Affect?
Mental illness can affect anyone regardless of age, gender, social status, race/ethnicity, or religion. Mental illness affects 1 in every 5 adults in the U.S in those without chronic illnesses, however, that number tends to be greater in people with chronic illnesses. For example, persons with amputations have exhibited a higher prevalence of anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, and PTSD following amputation . Higher levels of anxiety and depression are also seen in those diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS), diabetes, cancer, among other chronic conditions  .
What is Mental Illness Awareness Week?
Mental Illness Awareness week is the first week of October. The week is to raise awareness, educate the public, and provide support to individuals dealing with mental health illnesses. Groups like CureStigma have been developed to serve as advocates for treatments and open the discussion of mental health illnesses in order to put an end to the stigma surrounding these issues.
Below is an infographic, courtesy of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, with mental health facts and statistics in America.
What Can You Do About It?
Talk about any issues you may be having or be open to those who need to discuss their problems. The unfortunate reality is that those with mental health issues often do not speak openly about their problems with their families, friends, and even healthcare providers due to the perception of a societal stigma relating to mental illness. If you feel that you may be experiencing signs of depression or anxiety, speak with your prosthetist, orthotist, or other healthcare provider. While your orthotist/prosthetist may not be licensed to make diagnoses or treat mental health issues, they may have resources available to guide you to those that can.
Support groups are also available; if you do not know where to start, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has a help line with volunteer and staff members available to answer any questions you might have about mental health issues. A link to the page can be found in the resources section of this post.
Below is a list of resources to educate you more on mental health and what you can do to address any mental health issues you or someone you know may be experiencing.
A basic overview of mental health, myths and facts about mental health, and resources to further educate yourself.
An article published by the Amputee Coalition on handling grief and depression for persons with amputations.
An article published by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) on dealing with chronic illness in addition to mental health issues.
A campaign created by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) dedicated to dispelling the stigma of mental health issues.
Got a question about mental health issues? The NAMI HelpLine is staffed by those that can answer questions you might have about mental health issues.
 R. M. M. Parekh, “What is Mental Illness?,” American Psychiatric Association, August 2018. [Online]. Available: https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/what-is-mental-illness. [Accessed 3 August 2018].
 P. Mckechnie and A. John, “Anxiety and depression following traumatic limb amputation: a systematic review,” 2014.
 “Chronic Illness & Mental Health,” [Online]. Available: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/chronic-illness-mental-health/index.shtml#pub1. [Accessed 3 August 2018].