Mental health

mental health problems

Mental health is the health of your mind. Your mental health affects how you think and feel.

In the United States, people see mental health as part of the overall health of a person. They know that many people have mental health problems. Americans talk about mental health problems and look for ways to get better.

Mental illness is like physical illness. Many mental health problems are not serious. But some are very serious and cause terrible suffering.  Nobody should be embarrassed or afraid to seek help for a mental condition affecting themselves or a family member.  Medical professionals can help with counseling, medicine, and other treatments.

What causes mental health problems?

Mental health problems can have many causes. They include:

  • Genetics (the health history of your family)
  • Environment
  • A stressful job or home life
  • Difficult life events
  • The hormones and chemicals in your brain

How do mental health problems show?

Symptoms are the feelings and behaviors you have because of an illness. There are many different mental illnesses and many different symptoms. The most common symptoms are sadness, fear, anger, confusion, and unusual behavior. With serious mental health illness, all of the common symptoms are stronger. People are not able to carry on with everyday life. They may not know what is real or not real.

Type of mental health problems

The illnesses on this list are some of the most common mental health problems. Click on the links to learn more.

Mental health providers

Doctors and other medical professions in the United States provide different kinds of mental healthcare. Here are some of them:


Psychiatrists are doctors who specialize in mental illness. A psychiatrist can prescribe medicine for the treatment of mental illness along with other care. Psychiatrists often care for the most serious cases of mental illness.


Psychologists are not medical doctors. They diagnose and treat mental illness, but they do not prescribe medication. A diagnosis is a medical definition of what illness a person has. If a psychologist thinks that your diagnosis needs a psychiatrist, they will tell you.

Psychiatric and mental health nurses

Psychiatric and mental health nurses specialize in mental health and treat patients. They may work in their own medical offices or work for a psychiatrist. They can prescribe medications for a mental health illness.

Other professionals

There are other licensed professionals who treat mental health problems. They include counselors, therapists, and social workers. Some of them may focus on one area, such as marriage, family, substance abuse or trauma.

Where to find mental healthcare

Mental healthcare providers work at hospitals, clinics, and private medical practices. If you or someone in your family needs help with a mental health problem, ask your regular doctor. Your doctor’s office may have a mental healthcare professional.

Mental health and resettled refugees

Resettled refugees’ mental health needs may be different from those of other people. Past experiences with war, disaster, torture or the resettlement process can cause mental health problems. There are mental health resources for resettled refugees who are survivors of torture. You can ask your resettlement agency or health center to connect you to those services.

Mental health workers will ask you questions about your past. They want to better understand your situation and determine how to help you. Talking about your experiences as a refugee may be upsetting or difficult, but understand that your mental health provider is there to help you improve your health. They will not force you to tell them anything. If you want to start by sharing just a little bit about your life, that is okay.

Related links

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