What is a mental illness and how can we recognize it?


A mental illness includes a wide range of problems and disorders.

Mental disorders are characterized by changes of thinking, of mood or of behavior, and they all are combined with awkwardness and problems with functioning, mostly during a longer period of time. Symptoms of mental disorders can vary from mild to very serious ones, which depends on the type of mental disorder, the person, the person's family and socio-economic environment.

Mental and behavioral disorders are present in any given moment with about 10% of the adult population. One out of four families has a member with some kind of mental or behavioral disorder. The most common disorders which usually lead to severe disability include: depressive disorders, disorders caused by substance abuse, schizophrenia, epilepsy, Alzheimer's dementia, mental retardation and mental disorders of childhood and youth.

What are the causes of mental disorders ?


Mental disorders can be caused by severe, unpredictable events or difficulties that appear during dealing with problems. In life, each person experiences feelings of isolation, loneliness or emotional discomfort. These are usually normal, short-term reactions to difficult situations. However, in some cases, duration and level of painful feelings or changed thinking patterns can seriously affect a person's everyday life. The usual defense mechanisms are no longer enough, and these people may need help to regain balance and to return to the level of full functioning.

The way in which the society reacts is very important for the person's recovery.


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  • Obezbjediti dovoljno psihijatara
  • Pružiti liječenje u zajednici
  • Obrazovati stanovništvo
  • Uključiti zajednicu, porodicu i korisnike
  • Uspostaviti nacionalnu politiku, programe i zakone
  • Razvijati stručni kadar
  • Povezati se sa drugim sektorima
  • Pratiti mentalno zdravlje u zajednici
  • Podržati istraživanja
Who can help ?


When we are upset or sad, we usually ask our family or friends, or someone close, for help. If those problems become bigger, it is necessary to ask for professional help, counseling, supervision and analysis.

What can our health institutions do?


There are many available ways to treat mental illnesses: counseling, psychotherapy, medications, psychological treatments as well as various forms of self-help. If, with the support from the community, these forms of treatments can be integrated, they can provide the complete care and can be available to all the members of that community. What can an active community do to help? Studies from all around the world show that people with mental problems recover more effectively if they live in their communities, if they participate in social events and if they function within social relations with their families and friends, compared to those who are in hospitals and psychiatric institutions. This proves that we need services available to everyone, with friendly staff, as recommended by the World Health Organization


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