The field of mental illness as a whole refers to disorders that manifest internally. Mental illness can appear in many different forms, all of which are different disorders. Although each disorder has its own unique symptoms and treatments, all mental illness can be linked to a breakdown within the brain. The brain is an internal organ in our body and, although we can alter brain function, we can’t control it entirely. Our brain only makes up about two percent of our body weight, yet uses twenty percent of our body’s energy and twenty percent of our body’s oxygen (Bethesda, 4). The brain is a complex organ in which hundreds of thousands of chemical reactions occur every second, yet just one abnormality in the brain can lead to a chain reaction of breakdowns that interfere with an individual’s ability to function.
How Mental Illness Develops Within the Brain
The brain is a unique organ that works twenty-four hours a day to control our entire body. The brain sends billions of messages to different neurons, which enable different functions of the body. Because the brain is such a meticulous yet crucial organ in our bodies, one abnormality in any region of the brain can lead to mental illness. A gene abnormality, thickness of the insular cortex, thickness in the frontal lobe, and failure of neurons communicating, are all examples of simple abnormalities that develop, yet have an immense impact on an individual’s ability to function (Radiological Society of North America ,1). Abnormalities in one’s genes can lead to a disorder such as autism, thickness of the insular cortex and frontal lobe has been linked to depression, and the failure of neurons communicating results in messages being lost (Weir, 30). These messages control our physical function, thoughts, and feelings, and as a result an abnormality in any region of the brain can lead to mental illness.
Although mental illness develops within the brain, many different components of one’s life can contribute to this development and be a factor. These factors are categorized as biological, cognitive and sociocultural. Sociocultural factors refers to the impact that society and one’s environment can have on one’s mental health. Next are cognitive factors, which refer to who we are as a person and how we think and function. Lastly, biological factors can result in abnormalities in the biological makeup of an individual. All three of these factors play a role in every single individual’s life daily, but each individual has different factors, resulting in a different reaction.
No individual is immune to mental illness, no matter what race, age, gender, ethnicity, etc. they are. We all have a brain, which makes us all susceptible developing a mental illness. The component that makes individuals with mental illness different from every others is a breakdown over which that person has no control. For this reason, it’s important that we work to stay educated and educate others about how mental illness develop within the brain.
Mental illness cannot be prevented and often too cannot be controlled by the individual experiencing it. Mental illness and brain function can be affected by things such as alcohol, smoking, sleep deprivation, substance abuse, and brain injuries, but these components independently don’t cause mental illness (Bhandari, 1). As I have witnessed in my own community, mental illness is frustrating for individuals experiencing it because they have limited or no control of their mind and body. Because I’ve seen this struggle within my community I’m going to use social media platforms to share this presentation with those who follow my accounts, which is primarily individuals in my community. My hope in doing this is that individuals will willingly read and learn about mental illness, particularly how mental illness arises. These individuals also have no control over the development of their disorders, which can lead to more frustration. Although individuals don’t have control over the development of their disorder, as soon as they are diagnosed, a negative stigma is often automatically associated. For these reasons, it’s crucial that individuals who don’t have mental illness view the topic with an open mind and be empathetic to those who do indeed have mental illness, and what they are experiencing.
“What do you want individuals to understand about mental illness?”
“I wish people understood that sometimes I just can’t be strong anymore on the outside.”
“being outgoing doesn’t stop me from getting paralyzed by thinking about all of the ‘what ifs.”- Carries S, 37, MN
It’s not because I’m lazy or don’t want to do it, it’s because I actually can’t.”- Shannon C, 38, FL
It’s a minute by minute battle sometimes that is exhausting and all consuming.- M.P, 34, Western Australia
Often I question every little thing I do. Because of all this people think I’m not listening, that I think they’re not important or I’m just not trying hard enough to be attentive and keep everything together and focused. If they only know how hard I’m trying!- Heather N, 30, Canada
I want to believe them but I just don’t see myself the way other people do.”- Michelle R, 28, CA
“Unfortunately many people’s only experience with mental health issues is when someone’s illness is not treated or under control so they only see the really unpleasant side effects that can manifest. When the illness is treated, we are just like everyone else.”- Melissa L, 25, NV
Over the past ten years the field of psychology and the knowledge surrounding mental illness has grown immensely. Along with all the positive developments, a negative stigma too has developed. How can we work to change this stigma? This stigma roots from the uncertainty that surrounds mental illness, due to the fact that the field is still developing and due to it’s complexity. The negative aspects of the field are often highlighted or magnified because these tend to be the most talked about elements. When individuals don’t fully understand what a mental illness is and what is going on in someone’s body, they tend to generalize it. Common misconceptions about mental illness are that individuals who have a disorder are dangerous and individuals are less capable, however this isn’t the case.We can work together to squash these stigmas and conceptions by educating people about what mental illness is and how it develops.You can help educate people by simply passing on the link to this web page or sharing what you have learned with individuals in your own community.
Anderson, Charlotte Hilton. “30 Things People With Mental Illnesses Want You To Understand.” Women’s Health, 2 May 2017, www.womenshealthmag.com/health/a19976754/living-with-mental-illness/. Accessed 4 Apr. 2019.
Bethesda, MD. “Information about Mental Illness and the Brain.” National Institue of Health, 2007, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK20369/. Accessed 2 Apr. 2019.
Bhandari, Smitha, editor. “Causes of mental ilness.” WebMD, 20 May 2018, www.webmd.com/mental-health/mental-health-causes-mental-illness#2. Accessed 1 Apr. 2019.
Radiological Society of North America. “MRI uncovers brain abnormalities in people with depression, anxiety.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 November 2017. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/11/171120085448.htm>
Weir, Kristen. “The Roots of Mental Illness.” American Psychological Association, June 2012, www.apa.org/monitor/2012/06/roots. Accessed 23 Apr. 2019.
“What happens to children with autism, when they become adults? | Kerry Magro | TEDxMorristown.” YouTube, uploaded by TedxTalks, 9 Feb. 2016, www.youtube.com/watch?v=WtgGzKRHT-Y&t=104s. Accessed 4 Apr. 2019.