How do you get mental illness?

Mental illness is not something you can catch from somebody else like the flu. It's caused by a lot of different things, and it's usually a combination of a couple of them than makes someone really ill. A few things that might cause mental illness are:

  • You can be born with it. This means it runs in the family, and you inherit it from your parent. But just because your family member might be mentally ill, doesn't mean you will definitely get it! Sharing genes with someone with a mental illness just mean you have a bigger chance of getting it.

  • Chemicals in your brain change. Sometimes we have too little of some chemicals, which make us happy or calm. If this happens, people need medication to help them feel happy or not nervous.

  • A big, scary or sad event or stress can sometimes be hard to cope with, and can make someone feel too down or too hyped up.

  • Drugs. For some of us, drugs or alcohol change who we are, and make us feel like we can't live without them.

Mental illness can get better, if you get treated for it. A really good treatment many people use is talking about the problem, and getting support to deal with it. Some people also take medication from a doctor or psychiatrist. But having family and friends who support you is always a huge help!

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