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Ask The Expert: Mental Illness

May 16, 2019

What causes mental illness and is recovery possible?

Jennifer Carpinteri, Manager, Atlantic Behavioral Health

Mental health is as essential to overall health and well-being as physical, social and spiritual health. All four are interdependent. Many times, the exact causes of a mental disorder are unknown, but research shows most often a combination of biological, psychological, social and environmental factors are involved. Biological factors may include genetic predisposition or susceptibility, medical conditions, nutritional factors, and brain infection, injury or chemistry. Psychological factors may include coping style, temperament, cognitive disorders and learned patterns of thinking, feeling or acting. Social factors may include the realm of significant relationships. Environmental factors may include serious stressors, such as poverty, war, homelessness, interpersonal rejection, deaths or other significant losses, and abuse, neglect or trauma.

In recent landmark reports, the Surgeon General and other health care experts identified mental illnesses and substance misuse as the foremost public health problems in the country and the leading causes of disability in the United States. Nationally, one person in four has a mental health or substance use condition in any year and a lifetime prevalence of one person in three.

Not only is recovery possible, it is more common than most people think. Research shows recovery is quite possible even among people with serious mental illnesses:

  • 75 to 90% of people who received appropriate and adequate treatment soon after onset were in complete or nearly complete remission within one year
  • 50 to 65% of people were in complete or significant recovery over the long term (20 to 30 years). Of that group, two thirds were in complete recovery and 50% were not taking any psychiatric medications.

The Director of the Federal Center for Mental Health Services stated that “recovery is not only possible, but it is the expected outcome of treatment.”

- Jennifer Carpinteri, MSW, LSW is a Manager of Atlantic Behavioral Health at Atlantic Health System’s Newton Medical Center and Hackettstown Medical Center

Source: New Jersey Herald

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