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What Is Serious Mental Illness (SMI)? Why Is My Diagnosis “Serious” When Others Are Not?

The term SMI is often used when talking about serious mental illness. SMI refers to mental health conditions that can last a long time and impair function. Three of the most common SMI diagnoses are schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and major depressive disorder. They can make it difficult for an adult to carry out one or more major life activities

Fact Sheet: Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is a serious mental illness (SMI) that causes dramatic shifts in a person’s mood,…

Fact Sheet: Major Depressive Disorder

Major depressive disorder is much more than feeling sad or having a bad day. It is…

Fact Sheet: Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia interferes with a person’s ability to think clearly, manage emotions, make decisions, and relate to…

Are You Born With It? (Video)

Although mental health conditions are biological, they are caused by a complex combination of genetic and…

The Biology of Mental Health Conditions (Video)

We have learned a lot from decades of scientific study about mental health. Researchers are learning…

The Brain (Video)

Understanding how the brain works and learning what can go wrong will illustrate that mental health…

When It Comes To Serious Mental Illness… Words Matter

People often identify with roles and words that help them find meaning. Compassionate, stigma-free, person-first words…

Do I Have To Take Medication? What Else Do I Have To Do?

Research shows that the most effective treatment for SMI is psychotherapy and  medication together.
Yet each person is unique. SMI can look differently from one person to the next.  The first step is to talk openly with
a mental health clinician. Together, you can create the best treatment plan for your unique needs.

 

How Psychotropic Medications Work (Video)

Medication can be an important part of treatment for any physical condition, including mental health. For…

Specific Medications (Video)

Psychotropic medications are those that are used to treat mental health conditions. It is not uncommon…

Our Experience with Health Care (Video)

Watch this panel discussion of individuals with lived experience to learn about their experience with health…

Our Advice to Health Care Professionals (Video)

Watch this panel discussion of individuals with lived experience to learn about their advice to health…

How Messages Travel Through The Brain (Video)

The human brain is the organ we know the least about and is by far the…

Fact Sheet: Crisis Preparation

A crisis is any situation in which a person’s behaviors put them at risk of hurting…

Fact Sheet: Suicide Prevention

Suicide is one of the most devastating outcomes of serious mental illness (SMI). Although there is…

First-Generation (typical) Antipsychotics – Medication Fact Sheets

These medication fact sheets were created by SMI Adviser content partners and approved by the SMI Adviser…

Second-Generation (atypical) Antipsychotics – Medication Fact Sheets

These medication fact sheets were created by SMI Adviser content partners and approved by the SMI Adviser…

Antidepressants – Medication Fact Sheets

These medication fact sheets were created by SMI Adviser content partners and approved by the SMI Adviser…

Mood Stabilizers – Medication Fact Sheets

These medication fact sheets were created by SMI Adviser content partners and approved by the SMI Adviser…

Anticonvulsants – Medication Fact Sheets

These medication fact sheets were created by SMI Adviser content partners and approved by the SMI Adviser…

Will Things Get Worse If I Do Not Do Anything About This?

It is important to learn to identify the signs and symptoms of SMI. Research shows that the sooner you get care,
the more likely it is that you have the best outcomes in the long term.
What to Know About a New Diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder, Major Depression, or Schizophrenia

Just like having a serious physical health condition, experiencing SMI is not your fault, nor is…

What To Know About A New Diagnosis (Video)

Being diagnosed with a serious mental illness is not a road you ever expected to be…

First Episode Psychosis – Fact Sheets

Early or first-episode psychosis (FEP) refers to when a person first shows signs of beginning to lose…

Sharing My Story (Video)

Watch this video to learn about the recovery journey of Aislin Percival, who lives with depression.

Navigating a Mental Health Crisis: Resource Guide and Infographics

These resources were created by the National Alliance on Mental Illness, an SMI Adviser content partner, and…

How Can I Talk To Other People About This? Is There Anyone I Need To Tell?

As you navigate treatment for SMI, it is important to have the support of those who care about you. It is a personal decision about whom to tell and how much to tell them. It is natural to feel confused and even a bit scared about it. Use our resources to think through how to make the best decisions for you.
Taking Control of Your Mental Health: Tips for Talking With Your Health Care Provider

This tip sheet highlights five strategies to help prepare and guide you on how to talk…

Our Support Systems (Video)

Watch this panel discussion of individuals with lived experience to learn about their support systems.

Mental Health Care and Cultural Competence (Video)

Watch this video to learn about mental health care and cultural competence from Maxie Gordon, MD.

How Culture Impacts Mental Health and Treatment (Video)

Watch this video to learn about how culture impacts health and treatment from Maxie Gordon, MD.

Becoming a Culturally Competent Provider (Video)

Watch this video to learn about becoming a culturally competent provider from Maxie Gordon, MD.

Dr.…

Circle of Care: A Guidebook for Mental Health Caregivers

NAMI has partnered with the National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC) to create the Circle of Care:…

Do individuals with serious mental illness want their families involved in their care?

There are so many ways your family or close personal friend could be involved in your care.…

Demystifying Psychosis: A Primer for Families

A web-based course for family members to help them identify when a loved one is experiencing…

Important Information for Parents and Friends of Young People Experiencing Psychosis

It’s important for family and friends to understand what psychosis is and what it may look…

What is Shared Decision Making and what are its benefits?

A 2001 report of the Institute of Medicine defined patient centered care as “care that is respectful…

When Will I Start To Feel Better? Will I Ever Feel Normal Again?

Recovery from SMI is an individual journey. It takes time, patience, and understanding. The best results happen when you work
closely with your treatment team. Together, you can explore what works best for your specific needs.

 

Sharing My Story (Video)

Watch this video to learn about the recovery journey of Aislin Percival, who lives with depression.

Living With Serious Mental Illness (Video)

Watch this panel discussion of individuals with lived experience to learn how they are living with…

How Serious Mental Illness Shapes Our Lives (Video)

Watch this panel discussion of individuals with lived experience to learn how serious mental illness shapes…

The My Mental Health Crisis Plan app

Empowering individuals who have serious mental illness (SMI) to help guide their treatment preferences during a mental health crisis.

Get The App

Crisis Resources

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View Crisis Resources

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