Probably around ten percent of the global population is dealing with mental illness. Probably a tenth of those are dealing with a disabling mental illness, and probably a tenth of those are dealing with a severe mental illness. The last is the type where you end up in the state institution, or in assisted living. The first would be characterized by a condition that requires one or two pills. If your illness is disabling you’re considered “seriously mentally ill”. That’s characterized by hospital stays and meds cocktails.
“Mental illness”, in its broadest sense, represents the tendency within the general public for the physical processes regulating the brain’s chemistry to fail to perform correctly.
The group “the mentally ill” all probably receive disability. (Social Security Disability, in the US.) Either to a payee or to themselves. Anyone who had a good work history will receive at least a thousand dollars a month. As high as two-thousand for veterans. The minimum hovers near eight hundred. Most people receive the minimum. Adult foster care homes, long-term care facilities, and nursing homes receive a client’s SSDI check directly. Medical and psychiatric care for the disabled is free, through Medicaid providers. Usually large clinics. The exception to this are people who receive too large an SSDI check to qualify for Medicaid. If that happens, their insurance burden will keep them hovering near the minimum. Vets in this situation are able to rely on the Veterans Administration, however, which has long waiting lists but provides a lot of services.
Diagnoses are becoming less common. While the autism spectrum is still distinct, there is a ton of overlap between schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, bipolar disorder, and borderline personality disorder. ADHD, also, has almost everything else as a possible co-morbid condition. “Mental illness” can be thought of as a condition unto itself.
The main external symptoms of mental illness are aberrant behavior, agitation, fatigue, confusion, and an inability to articulate thoughts and emotions appropriately. The main internal symptoms are rage, fear, hopelessness, and suspicion.
Statistics show that a mentally ill person is less likely to be the perpetrator of a violent crime than someone from the normal population, and also more likely than someone in that group to be the victim of a violent crime. Many mentally ill people suffer from “intrusive thoughts”–permanent, compulsive thoughts of violence and obscenity. Most already know, however, psychiatry’s wisdom on that point. Intrusive thoughts are only unconscionable to those who have a conscience. The percentage of mentally ill people who act on intrusive thoughts is low.
Mentally ill people tend to stick close to home, because they often need someone to act as a caregiver. They universally deal with chronic fatigue, and many battle with “self neglect”, i.e. keeping up with simple activities of daily living, such as cleaning, bathing, or feeding themselves.
Mental illness is incurable, and a birth defect. The best means of showing support is in understanding, acceptance, and self-education.