Q. How can I maintain and improve my mental well being?
There are five ways Connect… With the people around you. With family, friends, colleagues and neighbours. At home, work, school or in your local community. Think of these as the cornerstones of your life and invest time in developing them. Building these connections will support and enrich you every day.

Be active… Go for a walk or run. Step outside. Cycle. Play a game. Garden. Dance. Exercising makes you feel good. Most importantly, discover a physical activity you enjoy; one that suits your level of mobility and fitness.

Take notice… Be curious. Catch sight of the beautiful. Remark on the unusual. Notice the changing seasons. Savour the moment, whether you are on a train, eating lunch or talking to friends. Be aware of the world around you and what you are feeling. Reflecting on your experiences will help you appreciate what matters to you.

Keep learning… Try something new. Rediscover an old interest. Sign up for that course. Take on a different responsibility at work. Fix a bike. Learn to play an instrument or how to cook your favourite food. Set a challenge you will enjoy achieving. Learning new things will make you more confident, as well as being fun to do.

Give… Do something nice for a friend, a stranger. Thank someone. Smile. Volunteer your time. Join a community group. Look out, as well as in. Seeing yourself, and your happiness, linked to the wider community can be incredibly rewarding and will create connections with the people around you.

Q. What does it mean to have a mental illness?
Mental illnesses are medical conditions that disrupt a person’s thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to others, and daily functioning. Just as diabetes is a disorder of the pancreas, mental illnesses are medical conditions that often result in a diminished capacity for coping with the ordinary demands of life.

Some of the more common disorders are depression, bipolar disorder, dementia, schizophrenia and anxiety disorders. Symptoms may include changes in mood, personality, personal habits and/or social withdrawal. When these occur in children under 18, they are referred to as serious emotional disturbances. Mental illnesses can affect persons of any age, race, religion, or income.

Here are some important facts about mental illness and recovery:
Mental illnesses are biologically based brain disorders. They cannot be overcome through "will power" and are not related to a person's "character" or intelligence. Mental disorders fall along a continuum of severity. Even though mental disorders are widespread in the population, the main burden of illness is concentrated in a much smaller proportion.

Mental illnesses usually strike individuals in the prime of their lives, often during adolescence and young adulthood. All ages are susceptible, but the young and the old are especially vulnerable.

The best treatments for serious mental illnesses today are highly effective; between 70 and 90 percent of individuals have significant reduction of symptoms and improved quality of life with a combination of pharmacological and psychosocial treatments and supports.

With appropriate effective medication and a wide range of services tailored to their needs, most people who live with serious mental illnesses can significantly reduce the impact of their illness and find a satisfying measure of achievement and independence. A key concept is to develop expertise in developing strategies to manage the illness process.

Early identification and treatment is of vital importance. By ensuring access to the treatment and recovery supports that are proven effective, recovery is accelerated and the further harm related to the course of illness is minimized.

Q. What is considered a serious mental illness?
Serious mental illnesses include major depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and borderline personality disorder. All mental disorders fall along a continuum of severity.

Q. What causes mental illness?
Mental illnes is caused by change in the level of neuro transmitter in the brain where social, cultural and economic factors have role to play.

Q. Can mental illness be prevented?
Most mental illnesses are caused by a combination of factors and can be prevented.

Q. Once someone has had a mental illness can they ever get better again?
Most people with mental illnesses who are diagnosed and treated, will respond well and live productive lives. Many never have the same problem again, although some will experience a return of symptoms. The important thing is that there is a range of effective treatments for just about every mental disorder.

Q. How common is mental illness?
Mental illnesses are very common; in fact, they are more common than cancer, diabetes or heart disease. According to the U.S. Surgeon General, an estimated 23% of American adults (those ages 18 and older) or about 44 million people, and about 20% of American children suffer from a mental disorder during a given year.

Even though mental disorders are widespread in the population, the main burden of illness is concentrated in a much smaller proportion, about 6 percent, or 1 in 17 Americans, who suffer from a serious mental illness (one that significantly interferes with functioning). It is estimated that mental illness affects 1 in 5 families in America.

Further, more than 7 million American adults, and more than 5 million children and adolescents suffer from a serious mental condition (one that significantly interferes with functioning).

Q. What are some of the warning signs of mental illness?
Symptoms of mental disorders vary depending on the type and severity of the condition. Some general symptoms that may suggest a mental disorder include:

In adults:
Confused thinking
Long-lasting sadness or irritability
Extreme highs and lows in mood
Excessive fear, worrying or anxiety
Social withdrawal
Dramatic changes in eating or sleeping habits
Strong feelings of anger
Delusions or hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that are not really there)
Increasing inability to cope with daily problems and activities
Thoughts of suicide
Denial of obvious problems
Many unexplained physical problems
Abuse of drugs and/or alcohol

In older children and pre-teens:
Abuse of drugs and/or alcohol
Inability to cope with daily problems and activities
Changes in sleeping and/or eating habits
Excessive complaints of physical problems
Defying authority, skipping school, stealing or damaging property
Intense fear of gaining weight
Long-lasting negative mood, often along with poor appetite and thoughts of death
Frequent outbursts of anger

In younger children:
Changes in school performance
Poor grades despite strong efforts
Excessive worrying or anxiety
Persistent nightmares
Persistent disobedience and/or aggressive behavior
Frequent temper tantrums