Mental Illnesses

Mental Illness is refers to a wide range of disorders that affect your mood, thinking, behaviour, and interpersonal relationships. It is a recognized and medically diagnosable condition that results in significant emotional distress and social impairments. No single factor is known to lead to any mental illness, however, it is becoming clear through research that many of the conditions are fostered by a combination of biological, developmental, psychological, sociocultural, and situational component.
One in five Canadians meets the criteria for having a mental illness in their lifetime, 24.1% women and 17% men; This percentage affects every one of us, whether at work, at home, or personally (Statistics Canada, 2006).

We all likely know someone who has experienced a mental illness at some point. Yet there are still many hurtful attitudes around it that fuel stigma and discrimination and make it harder to reach out for help. Like physical illnesses, mental illnesses can take many forms and can be treated effectively by trained health care professionals. However, unlike physical illnesses, they are still feared, shamed, and misunderstood by many people. The stigma will dissipate as people learn more about mental illnesses and its high prevalence in our society. Dispelling stigma is a crucial step to stopping prejudice, and promoting early identification and treatment seeking incentive.


Mood Disorders
  • Characterized by sad mood persistent for more than two weeks, diminished interest in activities which used to be pleasurable, loss of motivation, low energy/fatigue, irritation, significant weight gain or loss, sudden change in appetite, sleep disturbance, difficulties concentrating, feelings of guilt, hopelessness, and worthlessness, as well as recurrent thoughts of death.

  • Characterized by excessive and unrealistic worry about everyday tasks or events, or may be specific to certain objects or rituals. Simple phobias involve excess anxiety evoked by specific objects or situations. For example, Social Phobias are fears of interacting with others, particularly in large groups and public settings. In Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), one experiences an obsession (an intrusive and recurrent thought, idea, sensation or feeling) coupled with a compulsion (a behaviour that is recurrent and ritualized, such as checking, avoiding, or counting).

  • Formerly known as “manic-depressive disorder”, it is experienced as recurring episodes of both mania and depression. Mania is characterized by clearly elevated, unrestrained, or irritable mood which may manifest in an exaggerated assessment of self-importance or grandiosity, sleeplessness, racing thoughts, pressured speech, and the tendency to engage in activities which appear pleasurable but have a high risk for adverse consequences.


Mood Dysregulatory Problems:
  • Anger is a normal and usually health human emotion. But when it gets out of control and turns destructive, it can lead to problems at work, in your personal relationships, and in the overall quality of your life. Excessive anger outbursts can make you feel as though you are at the mercy of an unpredictable and powerful emotion.
  • The goal of anger management is to reduce both your emotional feelings and the physiological arousal that anger causes. You can’t get rid of or avoid the things or the people that enrage you, but you can learn to control your reactions.
  • Refers to deliberate acts that cause harm to one’s body, mind, and spirit. Examples include skin-cutting, burning, hitting, scratching or picking scabs preventing wounds from healing, hair pulling, inserting objects into one’s body. In a broader sense, behaviours such as smoking, binge drinking and substance use, bingeing on food or starving oneself, and staying in an abusive relationship can also be considered forms of self-harming. Usually, people who self-injure may not be trying to kill themselves, however, they are trying to feel better in their own ways.
  • A suicidal person experiences so much emotional pain that they feel like a burden to others, and in desperation sees death as a way to escape their overwhelming frustration, sadness, and loneliness. The suicidal state of mind has been described as constricted, filled with a sense of self-hatred, rejection, and hopelessness. Suicide is a difficult topic to bring up. However, if you are feeling suicidal, or have heard someone talk about it, it is crucial to take action and seek help immediately.
  • If you are feeling suicidal, please contact your local crisis line for suicide intervention and seek support from your family or friends immediately. Once you feel more calm, it is strongly recommended that you seek guidance from professional counsellor.
  • What begins in the body traps inside the heart, which often spreads to the mind. Trauma refers to emotional wounds that resulted from exposure to an extremely disturbingly and frightening sudden event involving death or the threat of death, serious injury, or sexual violence. Not everyone experienced trauma goes on and develops the mental disorder called, PTSD. For those that do, the physical and emotional assault from trauma triggers intrusive PTSD symptoms of hypervigilance, flashbacks, numbness and detachment from reality, depression, anxiety and nervousness, anger, poor memory, substance abuse, and social withdrawal.
  • Trauma recovery generally takes a long gradual process. The aim to help client integrate their past experiences into their current identity, foster emotional tolerance and acceptance, and strengthen their ability to live in the present without being disturbed by the thoughts and feelings of the past.