General Questions

Is anyone immune to mental illness?

No. mental illness can affect anyone of all ages, races, genders and incomes.

How common are mental illnesses?

Mental illness and their milder counterparts are common. About 20% of Americans suffer from a mental illness at any given time. The same percent of children in school also experience symptoms of diagnosable mental illnesses. It is less common, although not unheard of (about 3%), to see people affected by severe and ongoing mental illnesses.

What are some causes of mental illness?

Although the cause of mental illness is not entirely known, current psychologists believe in a variety of sources ranging from environment to genetics and a combination of both. This phenomena, used in many areas of psychology, known as epigenetics, suggests that environmental factors can trigger hereditary features. It has been proven that mental illnesses are partially caused by a biological influence, or a chemical imbalance in the brain, and is by no means a chosen illness.

Some basic information on specific mental illnesses can be found under our Information on Mental Illnesses section.

What should I do if I think someone I care about has an untreated mental illness?

If someone you care about is suffering from a mental illness there are several things that you can do. Let them know you are available to listen, tell them that their feelings are valid, and that you care about them and their health. Check in on them to make sure they are okay and encourage them to seek out clinical treatment so they can receive a formal diagnosis. See our Support A Student section for more information.


Treatment-Related Questions

What are the different treatment options?

Treatment options for mental illnesses include psychotherapy, medication, or a combination of the two. Visit our mental health treatment page for more information or our find treatment services page to find a provider.

Where should I go if I think I might have a mental illness?

There are many resources on campus for students that are seeking help with their mental health. The Frances and Kenneth and Family Eisenberg Depression Center, CAPS, and UHS have an abundance of resources for U-M students. Consider making an initial appointment with CAPS. They can direct you to the best treatment options available to you.

If you are looking for more options, see our find treatment services or support resources & tools page.

How do I find a therapist that is right for me?

Therapy is by no means “one size fits all.” It is important to find a treatment provider that fits your needs. You should feel comfortable with your therapist but this does not always happen after one appointment. Do not get discouraged if you don’t like the very first therapist you meet with. Finding a therapist is a process.

Check out the Choosing a Therapist tool for a list of things to consider when evaluating a potential therapist.

See our Find Treatment Services to find a new therapist in the area.

What should I do if I cannot get an immediate appointment for my mental illness?

It can be frustrating if you are not able to see a professional for your mental health concerns right away. Don’t get discouraged! There are many ways to improve your mental health even before seeing a health professional*:

  • Take care of yourself. Exercise, eat well, get on a good sleep schedule and practice positive relaxation techniques.
  • Attend a Campus Mind Works wellness group. These occur biweekly and alternate between North and Central Campus throughout the Fall and Winter semesters. CAPS also has additional workshops and groups that you can attend.
  • Make an appointment for wellness coaching. Wellness coaching is a holistic approach to examining how personal well-being interacts with one’s values, goals and motivations.
  • Join Wolverine Support Network or attend one of their weekly walk-in groups.

*For urgent concerns, you can see the CAPS Counselor-on-Duty the same-day (734-764-8312). If you are having thoughts of suicide, call Psychiatric Emergency Services (734-936-5900).

Who can prescribe & manage psychiatric medications?

Psychiatrists are medical doctors who specialize in the assessment and treatment of mental illnesses. Nurse practitioners are registered nurses with advanced training in the assessment and treatment of medical and/or mental illnesses. General practitioners (e.g., primary care providers) are medically trained professionals who are able to prescribe any form of medication (including psychiatric medication) but do not specialize in mental health treatment.

Can mental illnesses be treated without medication?

Yes, but each person’s treatment plan is different. Consult with your provider whether or not medication would be helpful for you. Therapy is a common form of mental health treatment that can be used with or without medication.


Sleep-Related Questions

Why is good sleep so important for college students?

Regular and restful sleep is essential for good health. Sleep helps you feel less stressed and even helps you to maintain a healthy diet.  College students often lead very busy and stressful lives. Everyday activities such as going to class, working out, or working on a computer can strain your mind and body.  Sleep deprivation can affect important aspects of your mind and body such as your mood, energy, ability to learn, memory, good judgment, reaction time and efficiency.

How does sleep help?

Sleep is a process with several distinct phases. At each phase, different physiological processes take place:

  • Deep and restful sleep helps to restore energy you expend during the day.
  • Your brain is actively working while you sleep to create new pathways for areas such as learning, memories and new insights.
  • Good sleep helps your body to fight off common infections by releasing key hormones while you sleep.
  • Sleep gives your heart and vascular system a rest by reducing your heart rate and blood pressure.

How can sleep deprivation affect me if I have a chronic mental illness?

Lack of quality sleep increases hormone levels which can affect mood and stress levels. It can lead to problems with concentration, memory, judgment, problem solving and reaction time, and worsen symptoms related to your mental illness. Your coping skills can also be compromised if you are not feeling fully rested. Your academic performance can suffer due to sleep problems. When your concentration is compromised, your energy level is low or you have lowered memory retention, it may be harder to pay attention in class, harder to study, and definitely more difficult to perform well on a test.

What if my sleep problems are caused by my mental illness or my psychiatric medication?

Sleep disruption is a common symptom of many mental illnesses. Those who have Bipolar Disorder, for example, can have irregular sleep patterns which in turn can bring about or worsen their depressive and manic episodes.  Anxiety and depression can also make it very difficult to relax and fall asleep. In addition, some psychiatric medications can alter sleep patterns. Severe sleep problems may need special attention as part of treatment.  Effective medication and non-medication treatments for sleep problems are available. It is best to speak with your healthcare provider for his/her recommendations based on your individual symptoms and experiences.

How do I know how much sleep I need?

Most adults need an average of eight hours of restful sleep per night. But this varies by individual. The best way to determine the right amount of sleep for you is to spend one week waking up naturally without an alarm clock.  At the end of the week, average out the amount of sleep you received each night. Use this sleep diary to help you keep track of your sleep during this time.

Can I sleep too much?

Yes.  Oversleeping can also lead to some of the same problems that result from sleep deprivation.  Sleeping too much has also been shown to increase the risk of heart problems, obesity and cognitive impairment.

How does sleep affect my diet?

Research has shown that lack of sleep leads to insulin sensitivity which can lead to increased cravings for high-calorie foods.  This is especially important information for students who are taking psychiatric medications that may increase appetite or those who have a medical condition such as diabetes. Learn ways to take care of your physical well-being on our self-care page.





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