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Mental health and mental illness

You probably know people who are really physically fit, some who are in pretty average shape, and some who are in poor shape who may have pain or chronic disease. Mental health has a similar range of fitness levels, from feeling minor stress up to having issues like severe depression or anxiety.

Some people manage life's ups and downs really easily. Others seem to struggle a little, but generally cope well. Others struggle quite a lot and may seem to be completely overwhelmed by life's challenges. At different times in your life, you may find yourself managing well or not well at all, depending on the circumstances.

What is mental illness?

Sometimes a person's thinking, mood or behaviour over a period of time causes a lot of distress and makes it difficult or impossible to meet everyday tasks or responsibilities. That person may have a mental illness. Mental illness consists of a range of disorders, from mild to severe and short-lasting to long-lasting.

One in five Canadians will deal with a mental illness at some time in their life. Even though most mental disorders are treatable, only about one third of people with a mental disorder gets help. Understanding mental illness better helps you know if you or someone you know may need to seek advice or treatment.

Many resources are available to help give you a better understanding of mental illness and how to get help for yourself or someone else. Check out these links:

Mental health topics

Types of help

People sharing their own stories – at work

  • "Working Through It" videos: reclaiming well-being at work, off work and returning to work (Great-West Life)

What is stigma? Why it hurts.

  • Stigma (Centre for Addiction and Mental Health)
Are you in crisis? 
Contact the Calgary Distress Centre at 403-266-4357.