What are Mental Health Conditions?
Mental health conditions (also called emotional disorders or mental illnesses) are a collection of disorders characterized by symptoms like sadness, extreme mood swings, disturbances in thought or perception, overwhelming obsessions or fears, or high levels of debilitating anxiety. Just as asthma is a disorder of the lungs, mental illnesses are disorders of the mind which, if untreated, can make it difficult to cope with the ordinary demands of life.
No one knows exactly what causes mental illness. Generally, experts agree that multiple factors influence the development of these illnesses — including genetic factors (meaning that having a family member with a mental illness can sometimes increase the risk of developing one), biochemical factors (meaning that there’s an imbalance in the chemicals in the brain) and/or environmental factors like severe stress or traumatic events that can affect the way the mind works.
Mental health conditions are treatable. Noticing changes in your child’s behavior is a healthy first step to finding the treatment they need. Because college years are a time when many emotional disorders first appear, it is crucial that all parents learn the signs and symptoms of common mental health conditions and what to do if they think their children are struggling with these issues.
Here are links to basic information, including signs and symptoms, of some of the most common mental health conditions:
- Connecting Your Child with Mental Health Resources on Campus
- Contact Information Every Parent Should Know
- Exploring Campus Mental Health Support Systems
- Finding the Right Off-Campus Mental Health Professional
- Four Things Every Parent Must Know About Emotional Health
- If Your Child is Worried About a Friend
- Medical Leaves of Absence
- Mental Health Conditions: Privacy and Telling Others
- Preventing Suicide: Warning Signs and How to Respond
- Suicide and College Students
- The Basics: Alcohol and Drug Dependence and Abuse
- The Basics: Anxiety Disorders
- The Basics: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
- The Basics: Bipolar Disorder
- The Basics: Depression
- The Basics: Eating Disorders
- The Basics: Schizophrenia
- The Basics: Self-Injury (Cutting)
- The Proactive Parent
- Three Important Guidelines for Transitioning with a Diagnosed Condition
- Transferring Treatment to College
- Types of Mental Health Professionals
- What are Mental Health Conditions?
- What to Do When Your Student is Struggling
- Who Will Struggle with Mental Illness?