A mental illness is not a character flaw.
As of the beginning of 2018, it is believed that over 15% of people over the age of 21 suffer from some form of mental health condition with over 1% of sufferer’s illnesses being of a severe nature (such as bipolar disorder or psychosis). These statistics are even greater for young adults between the ages of 16 and 21.
This would mean that 1 in every 6 adults above the age of 21 will suffer from some form of a mental health condition, with 1 in every 100 adults suffering from severe mental illnesses.
Despite the fact that there are over 1 billion people who suffer from some form of mental illness worldwide, there are still many who believe that mental health issues are somehow affiliated with mental strength, claiming that the sufferers of any mental health issues are mentally weak. This may seem like a valid argument to any person who has not suffered from a mental illness first hand or had someone close to them affected by it, but any sufferer will know that this is not the case. In fact, living with and surviving a mental illness requires a great deal of mental strength and stamina.
The onset of any mental health condition can occur due to one (or more) of the following factors:
Mental illnesses can sometimes be hereditary. It is not the illness itself that is passed on through genetics but it is the susceptibility (or vulnerability) to the illness that may be passed on from generation to generation. Factors such as stress, abuse, loss of a loved one or a traumatic event or experience may trigger that vulnerability which then develops into an illness. For some, although they are susceptible to mental illness, they may never suffer from it.
Environmental and social exposures
A common cause of mental illness is the exposure to environmental and social stressors such as poor diet, alcohol and drug abuse, poverty, mental and physical abuse, loss of loved ones and violence. All of these factors are known to trigger mental health conditions in people who are exposed to them on a regular basis or if the event is particularly traumatic.
Chronic medical conditions
Ongoing chronic medical conditions such as diabetes and cancer are known to be a cause of mental illnesses. These medical conditions and diseases are often stressful on their hosts and can trigger mental health issues due to the mental and physical stresses that they cause.
These are just a few of the primary factors known to be the cause of mental health issues. Although mental strength may be a factor in some cases of mental illnesses, these are the minority of cases and mental health issues can affect anyone regardless of their “mental toughness”.