Frequently Asked Questions: Mental Illnesses
If you are with a student in an emergency situation, call campus police at 919-962-8100 or dial 911. If you are unsure whether the situation requires immediate, rapid intervention, call Counseling and Psychological Serivices at 919-966-3658 and ask to speak with the staff member on call.
Any member of the UNC community seeking consultation about when to intervene on behalf of a student, how to respond to a student in distress, and where to refer students in need of care should contact CAPS at 919-966-3658 or the Office of the Dean of Students at 919- 966-4042.
What is mental illness?
Mental illnesses are health conditions that disrupt:
- a person’s thinking
- ability to relate to others
- daily functioning
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the most common of these are:
- anxiety disorders
- depressive disorders
- eating disorders
Common symptoms include:
- changes in mood
- change in personality
- change in personal habits
- social withdrawal
- substance abuse
- changes in sleeping or eating habits
- Feeling very sad or withdrawn for more than 2 weeks
- Seriously trying to harm or kill yourself, or making plans to do so
- Intense worries or fears that get in the way of your daily activities
What causes mental illnesses?
It is unknown exactly what causes a mental illness. According to the Mayo Clinic, four factors come into play:
inherited traits- can cause a person to be vulnerable to developing a mental illness, given certain experiences
biological factors- severe brain injuries or exposure to viruses, among others
life experiences- challenging situations such as loss of a loved one or difficult upbringing
brain chemistry- changes in neurotransmitters
How common are they?
In 2001, the World Health Organization, estimated that 450 million people suffer from a mental disorder. In the United States alone, the National Institute of Mental Health reports that one in four adults—approximately 57.7 million Americans—experience a mental health disorder in a given year.
In North Carolina, out of approximately 9.2 million residents, close to 335,000 adults live with serious mental illness and about 99,000 children live with serious mental health conditions, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
Where can I find help?
The Department of Health and Human Services is in charge of the delivery of mental health services in North Carolina.
To find services and programs in Orange County: