Certain factors may increase your risk of developing mental health problems, including:

  • Having a blood relative, such as a parent or sibling, with a mental illness
  • Stressful life situations, such as financial problems, a loved one's death or a divorce
  • An ongoing (chronic) medical condition, such as diabetes
  • Brain damage as a result of a serious injury (traumatic brain injury), such as a violent blow to the head
  • Traumatic experiences, such as military combat or being assaulted
  • Use of alcohol or recreational drugs
  • Being abused or neglected as a child
  • Having few friends or few healthy relationships
  • A previous mental illness

Mental illness is common. About 1 in 5 adults has a mental illness in any given year. Mental illness can begin at any age, from childhood through later adult years, but most begin earlier in life.

The effects of mental illness can be temporary or long lasting. You also can have more than one mental health disorder at the same time. For example, you may have depression and a substance use disorder.

Oct. 13, 2015