1. behavioural functioning (National Alliance on Mental

1. What is Mental Illness

Mental illness is a medical condition characterized by the disruption of an individual’s emotional, cognitive or behavioural functioning (National Alliance on Mental Illness, 2011). The key influences to development of the condition are discussed below.

1.1 Causes of Mental Illness

Generally, the causes of several mental illnesses have not been established and remain unknown. “However, research into the issue has established that in many cases, the condition develops as a result of a combination of biological, psychological, and biochemical/hormonal factors” (Mayo Clinic, 2009).

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Biologically, it is believed that individuals coming from families whose members have a history of mental illness are most susceptible to develop the condition.

This is because they may share a genetic vulnerability in developing the illness at some point in life. Being at that risk, the illness can be triggered by other factors depending on the individual’s way of life. Also, exposure to viruses or toxins while in the womb may lead to traumatic brain damage that can trigger the illness (Mayo Clinic, 2010).

Psychological issues that may lead to development of the illness can not be ruled out. For instance, unbearable experiences in life such as losing a loved one, poverty, and depression can trigger development of the illness (Mayo Clinic, 2010).

According to Chakraburtty (2009) upbringing is a factor that can cause the condition; for example, it may lead to poor self esteem or the inability to relate to others in the society. In addition to that, unbearable psychological trauma at early stages in life, such as sexual or emotional abuse can result in mental illness (Chakraburtty, 2009).

Biochemical causes (brain chemistry) are the changes that take place within the brain as a result of naturally occurring brain chemicals, and may lead to development of the condition. Generally, these changes and hormonal imbalances are associated with a person’s mood and other mental health issues. “It is thought that inherited traits, life experiences and biological factors can all affect brain chemistry linked to mental illnesses” (Mayo Clinic, 2010).

2. Treatments for Mental Illness

Treatment of mental illnesses depends on the type of illness, its level of development, and the way of life of the patient. In cases of extreme mental severity, for example schizophrenia, a team approach is appropriate. This ensures that all psychiatric, medical and social needs of the patient are met (Mayo Clinic, 2010). Various approaches are used for treatment of mental illness as described below.

2.1 Treatment Teams & Treatment Options

“The people who may be involved in the patient’s treatment include; a family doctor, psychiatrist, psychotherapist, pharmacist, social workers, and important family members” (Mayo Clinic, 2010). However, if the condition of illness is mild, a family doctor, a psychiatrist, or a psychotherapist can handle the situation. Depending on the type, severity and doctor’s opinion, there are several treatments that can be prescribed for mental illness. Mostly, a combination of the medications brings the best results.


Medications which can be prescribed include; antidepressants, mood-stabilizers, anti-anxiety, and antipsychotic medications (Mayo Clinic, 2010). Unfortunately, psychiatric medications do not cure the illness, but may help to increase the effectiveness of other treatments like psychotherapy.


Generally, psychotherapy involves the process of treating mental illness by sharing about the condition with a mental health professional (Mayo Clinic, 2010). Psychotherapy helps the patient to understand his moods, condition, and behaviour, thus, imparting stress-management knowledge (American Psychiatric Association, 2011).

This treatment is usually completed after few months; however, it is advisable to extend the treatment for some time in order to get the best results. “Examples of psychotherapies include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), interpersonal therapy (IPT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT)” (Mayo Clinic, 2010).

Other Treatments

Other treatments that can be administered include: Brain-stimulation treatments; hospitalization and residential treatment programs; substance abuse treatment; and participation in own care (Mayo Clinic, 2010).

3. Conclusion

In conclusion, mental illness is a common occurrence which can be controlled through administering various medications as described earlier.

Reference List

American Psychiatric Association. (2011). Mental Illness. Retrieved June 7, 2011 from the Healthy Minds Healthy Lives: http://healthyminds.org/Main-Topic/Mental-Illness.aspx

Chakraburtty, A. (2009, February 9). Causes of Mental Illness. Retrieved June 7, 2011 from the WebMD: http://www.webmd.com/anxiety-panic/mental-health-causes-mental-illness

Mayo Clinic. (2010, November 5). Mental Illness. Retrieved June 7, 2011 from the Mayo Clinic: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/mental-illness/DS01104/DSECTION= treatments-and-drugs

Mayo Clinic. (2010, September 1). Mental Illness. Retrieved June 7, 2011 from the Mayo Clinic: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/mental-illness/DS01104/ DSECTION=causes

National Alliance on Mental Illness. (2011). Mental Illness. Retrieved June 7, 2011 from the Nami: http://www.nami.org/Content/NavigationMenu/Inform_Yourself/ About_Mental_Illness/About_Mental_Illness.htm