Understanding the Different Levels of Mental Illness


If we were to tell the general public that 20% of adults in America suffer from a mental disorder, people would largely laugh at this. Unfortunately though, it’s an accurate statement. If you really think about it, the numbers are actually worse. That 20% figure? It’s in a given year. Meaning: 20% of adults in America suffer from a mental disorder every year. This suggests, at least statistically speaking, that the overwhelming majority of the population, suffers from a mental illness. Basically: there is no escaping it. You will experience an “event” in your lifetime, and probably several.

Mental illness is of course a huge issue today. We’ve come a long way since it was considered a major taboo. That ‘major’ tag has since been downgraded to ‘minor’. While taboo still exists, it has gone down drastically. It’s a start; we’ll take it. However, the issue doesn’t just stop with taboo. Many people aren’t even looking to get professional help for their problems. There are a myriad of reasons for this, but one that sticks out is the fact that most people don’t understand the different levels of therapy. So today, we’re going to be exploring the different levels of mental illness and what you should be doing to improve your situation.

Stages of Mental Health

Ask anyone you know (sans a medical professional) about the different “levels” of mental health and they would probably say something along the lines of: mild, moderate and severe. While this isn’t entirely false, professionals in the mental health field are using different terminology, essentially mimicking how we view cancer: in stages.

  • Stage 1. Also known as a ‘mild’ case, it is here where a person displays some type of symptom(s).
  • Stage 2. Stage 2 is arguably the hardest to ‘diagnose’ because there is no ‘street word’ for it. We have mild, moderate and severe. Stage 2 is smack in the middle of mild and moderate, where the mental health condition deteriorates while the symptoms become more noticeable. It starts affecting life, but in minor, isolated areas.
  • Stage 3. This is the ‘moderate’ label, where symptoms having increased in severity, oftentimes where multiple symptoms are showing/occurring. Life has taken a turn for the worse, with constant disruptions in a person’s quality of life.
  • Stage 4. This is full blown mental illness, otherwise known as ‘severe’. Symptoms are out of control and affect virtually anyone in this stage with various life crisis’s.

Options in Treating the Different Stages

If you thought that we were going to advocate anything but therapy, no matter the stage, you yourself may need professional help. While there are alternatives for therapy available, seeing a licensed professional is your best bet in overcoming a mental disorder. Even in the case of a stage 1 clinical mental health disorder, believe that you can overcome it in other ways or even by yourself is a misguided thought process at best. Many people believe that having a mild issue isn’t a big deal and one that can be fixed via the “self-help” method. This is mostly inaccurate. Make sure to get help as soon as possible. It’s essentially like cancer. The faster you treat it, the better your chances are of overcoming your condition in an appropriate and timely manner. There are many options for therapy. For a small but informative list of where you can get help, see this list below:

Psychology Today Therapist Finder

Online Therapy Services listed at E-counseling.com


APA Therapist Locator