mental health

Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. It means having good ways to deal with your feelings and how to enjoy life, even when things are hard. Mental health is important at every stage of life.

Just like physical illness, we can experience a mental illness anytime. Mental illnesses are common but help is available . With support and help, mental health can improve and recovery is possible.

Photo of a family conversation on a park bench.
Myth: There is no hope for people with diagnosed mental illnesses.
Fact: Studies show that people with mental illnesses get better and many recover completely. There are more treatments, services, and community support systems than ever before, and they work.
Myth: Children don't experience mental illnesses.
Fact: Half of all mental illnesses show first signs before a person turns 14 years old, and three quarter begin before age 24.* Early mental health support can help a child before problems interfere with other developmental needs.
Myth: People with a mental illness are dangerous and violent.
Fact: The vast majority of people with mental illnesses are no more likely to be violent than anyone else. In fact, people with severe mental illnesses are over 10 times more likely to be victims of violent crime than the general population.*
Myth: Therapy and self-help are a waste of time. Why bother when you can just take a pill?
Fact: Treatment for mental health varies depending on the individual and could include medication, therapy, or both. Many individuals work with a support system during the healing and recovery process.
Myth: I can’t help someone with a mental illness. Only a doctor can.
Fact: You can help people who have a mental illness. Friends and family can be important influences to help someone get the treatment and services they need.

For more myths and facts about mental health, visit Walk In Our Shoes and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Common Experiences

Below you will see some common mental health experiences. With a strong support system and open conversations with loved ones, these experiences can be improved and manageable. Recovery is possible. For a more extensive list, please click here.

  • Depression

    Depression is the most common mental illness in the US.* It can change how you think, feel, and act. Even if you have a good life, you can struggle with depression. It’s good to have family and close friends to talk to and help when things are tough, and talking to a mental health professional about these strong feelings can help. Depression can be very hard, but people with depression can get better too, and learn how to enjoy life.


  • Anxiety (Panic Disorder)

    Have you ever been really nervous? Feeling anxious and nervous is common. But a person diagnosed with an anxiety disorder will have these feelings suddenly and often. These strong, sudden feelings of stress or fear are called “panic attacks.” People who have panic attacks sometimes feel scared to go places because they are afraid of having an attack. Their daily life can be scary, but they can get help, get better and be okay.


  • Stress

    Stress can be defined as the brain’s response to any demand. Many things can trigger this response, including change. Changes can be positive or negative, as well as real or perceived. Stress can have many triggers: when you worry about money, a loved one’s illness, retirement, or experience an emotionally devastating event, such as the death of a spouse or being fired from work. When you are constantly reacting to stressful situations without making adjustments, your stress can threaten your health and well-being.

    • Learn more in the adult stress FAQ from National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
    • Read these tips on how you can reduce stress


Mental Health Resources and Programs

  • Each Mind Matters
    Each Mind Matters is California’s Mental Health Movement. Funded by Proposition 63, the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA), this movement focuses on prevention and wellness to transform the mental health community.
  • Know the Signs
    Learn how to recognize the warning signs of suicide, how to find the words to have a direct conversation with someone in crisis, and where to find professional help and resources.
  • Walk in Our Shoes
    Walk in Our Shoes is a great resource for your kids or students to learn the facts about mental health issues.
  • OC Health Care Agency Behavioral Health Services
    Orange County specific information, services, resources, hotlines, and programs for mental health.
  • Speak Our Minds
    An online resource for millions of Californians coming together to fight stigma and promote awareness, compassion and acceptance.
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness OC (NAMI OC)
    NAMI California is a leading organization of individuals working with mutual respect to provide help, hope and health for those affected by serious mental health challenges.
  • ReachOutHere
    Forums with a safe, anonymous online space where teens and young adults can go for immediate support and information free of judgment.
  • Change Direction
    An initiative of concerned citizens, nonprofit leaders, and leaders from the private sector who have come together to create a new story in America about mental health, mental illness, and wellness.
  • Bring Change 2 Mind
    A non-profit organization working together to end the stigma and discrimination surrounding mental illness through widely distributed public education.
  • Active Minds
    A non-profit organization that empowers students to speak openly about mental health in order to educate others and encourage help-seeking.
  • National Institute of Mental Health
    The national institute transforming the understanding and treatment of mental illnesses.
  • U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Association (SAMHSA)
    An online source of information for persons seeking treatment facilities for substance abuse/addiction and/or mental health problems.


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