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Common Questions


Question #1:

What is the cause of mental illness?

Although the exact cause of most mental illnesses is not known, it is becoming clear through research that many of these conditions are caused by a combination of biological, psychological, and environmental factors.

Mental illnesses, in general, are thought to be caused by a variety of genetic and environmental factors:

  1. Inherited traits. Mental illness is more common in people whose blood relatives also have a mental illness. Certain genes may increase your risk of developing a mental illness, and your life situation may trigger it.

  2. Environmental exposures before birth. Exposure to environmental stressors, inflammatory conditions, toxins, alcohol or drugs while in the womb can
    sometimes be linked to mental illness.

  3. Brain chemistry. Neurotransmitters are naturally occurring brain chemicals that carry signals to other parts of your brain and body. When the neural networks involving these chemicals are impaired, the function of nerve receptors and nerve systems change, leading to depression.

20% of youth aged
13 to 18 have a mental health condition. 
It's normal!
32% of California teens have experienced depression symptoms
in the last year.

Question #2:

How do I help someone with a mental illness?

Provide them with support and a safe environment and assist them with connecting to professional treatment as soon as possible to support stress reduction and access to proper help.

For more tips on how to help a friend, please click the button below:

Question #3:

How does mental illness affect the mind?

Mental health obstacles affect your ability to think and process information and, consequently, affect the way you feel and act. Mental health stressors could affect your ability to manage stress you deal with on a daily basis.

To gain a deeper, more scientific understanding of how mental illnesses affect the brain, click the button below to watch a video!

31.9% of adolescents have an anxiety disorder.
Only 3% to 5% of violent acts are attributable to serious mental illness, and most do not involve guns. 
(Psychiatric Services)

Question #4:

Are people with mental illness dangerous?

There are many myths about how dangerous people with mental health problems are, but the reality is that people with mental health problems have a higher risk of being victimized rather than perpetrators. Research shows that the majority of violent crimes and homicides are committed by people who do not have mental health problems.

Question #5:

Where can I get help?

The first step is to recognize the need to talk to someone about your current stressors, and letting trusted people know about your needs, connecting with professional help as needed, and following up with treatment recommendations.


If you are in crisis, and need immediate support or intervention, call, or go the website of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

(1-800-273-8255). Trained crisis workers are available to talk 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Your confidential and toll-free call goes to the nearest crisis center in the Lifeline national network. These centers provide crisis counseling and mental health referrals.


If the situation is potentially life-threatening, call 911 or go to a hospital emergency room.

In 2016, only 41% of the 3.1 million adolescents who experienced depression within the past year received treatment.
"61.5% of youth with major depression do not receive any mental health treatment."
(Mental Health America)

Question #6:

What are my rights, as a youth, for seeking help?

Mental health services are confidential and recipients have the right for privacy when talking with professionals who are bound to a code of ethical conduct. However, there are limits to confidentiality to support a person's safety. For example, if a person discloses that he/she/they are in danger to themselves or others or that the person is unable to care for themselves, the professional will break confidentiality as needed to coordinate that person's safety.

In California, if you are 12 years old or older, you may seek out a counselor for support without parental/guardian consent. However, parental consent may be needed for future visits if outside treatment is required.

Question #7:

How do I prevent mental illness or protect my mental health?

The best way to prevent and protect your mental health is being aware that mental health stressors are common and for you to continuously engage in self-care through exercising, eating and sleeping well, and managing stress levels.

"50% of cases

of mental health issues begin by age 14;
75% begin by age 24"

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