Mental health disorders, such as depression or anxiety, affect the way we think, feel and behave. There are more than 200 types of mental illnesses. Symptoms of mental health disorders usually improve with treatment, which may include medication, psychotherapy, alternative therapies or brain stimulation therapy.
Behavioral health (sometimes called mental health) includes a person’s psychological, emotional and social wellbeing. It shapes the way you think, feel, behave and interact with others. Your mental state also affects how you cope with stress. It’s a vital part of your life, from infancy through adulthood.
Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy
Mental (behavioral) health disorders, or mental illnesses, affect the way you think and behave. They change your mood and can make it difficult to function at home, work, school or in your community.
It’s important to note that having poor mental health doesn’t always mean you have a behavioral health disorder. You can also have a behavioral health disorder and still go through long periods of good mental health.
There are more than 200 types of mental health disorders. A few of the most common types of mental health disorders include:
Anyone of any age, sex, background or ethnicity can get a behavioral health disorder. People designated female at birth (DFAB) more commonly experience depression, anxiety and eating disorders. While people designated male at birth (DMAB) are more likely to experience substance abuse and antisocial personality disorders. Behavioral problems and ADHD are more common in adolescents.
Behavioral health disorders are common in the United States. About 1 in 5 adults and adolescents live with a mental health disorder. About half of all mental illnesses begin by age 14 and three-quarters begin by age 24.
Suicide, which is often associated with mental illness, is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. It’s the second leading cause of death among people ages 15 to 34.
Behavioral health disorders can have many causes. They might be the result of abnormal genes. You may inherit those genes from a parent, or genes can change during your life. Chemical imbalances in your brain can also lead to mental illness.
Your risk of mental illness increases if you:
Mental health disorders can lead to a broad range of symptoms, including:
Behavioral health disorders in children tend to affect their functioning. You might notice:
It’s important to get a diagnosis from a healthcare provider who specializes in behavioral health disorders. You need an accurate diagnosis to receive the right treatment.
A healthcare provider will carefully review your symptoms to evaluate your mental health. Be sure to tell your healthcare provider:
There aren’t any medical tests that can diagnose mental illnesses. But your healthcare provider may perform tests, such as blood work or imaging exams, to rule out other conditions that can affect mental health.
Treatments for mental health disorders may include:
There’s no way to prevent a behavioral health disorder. But you can manage symptoms better with the help of a healthcare provider. Contact them as soon as you notice there’s a problem.
Most people with behavioral health disorders can manage their symptoms. They lead full, fulfilling lives with the right treatments. Some people will need to manage a mental illness for the rest of their lives. Others find that symptoms improve as they get older. Overall, mental illnesses tend to peak in young adults ages 18 to 25, then diminish greatly after 50. Mental illness can also increase your risk for certain health conditions such as stroke, Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Get help right away if you’re having suicidal thoughts or notice suicidal behavior in someone else. You can call the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988. This hotline connects you to a national network of local crisis centers that provide free and confidential emotional support. The centers support people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In an emergency, call 911.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Behavioral health disorders, which affect about 20% of people in the U.S., impact how you think, feel and behave. They can make it difficult to function at home, school or work. But there are treatments. Getting an accurate diagnosis is the first step toward managing a mental health disorder. Talk to your healthcare provider if you or your child show any signs or symptoms.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 01/24/2022.
Learn more about our editorial process.