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Frequently Asked Questions - Introduction
FAQs - Introduction

Mental illnesses are disorders of a person’s thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to others, and daily functioning. There are various types of mental illnesses. These can be treated and recovery is possible. Medication and psychotherapy are examples of popular and effective modes of treatment. Treatment results are as good as any physical illness depending on the type of the illness.


The concept of health includes both physical and mental well being. Mind and body are two sides of the same coin, and hence their disturbances are interrelated. The “Mind” is not purely a spiritual entity, but also forms part of the brain as a structure. So, like any body part it can have issues of illness. We always relate doctors, medicines and diseases with physical ailments. Unfortunately, mental disorders are visualised purely from non-medical and non-scientific aspects leading to misconceptions.

A Psychiatrist deals with emotional disturbances, including disturbances in thought and behaviour. Illness results in changes in these areas which are not necessarily features of “madness”. Madness is a loose term used by people and creates stigma for people with genuine emotional difficulties.

Members of public have a common misperception that all mentally ill patients are violent or behave in a funny way. Exaggerated depiction of violence and comic behaviour by visual media adds to this misconception that all mental illnesses lead to total loss of self-control.

Of all the people suffering from mental disorders, a very small percentage exhibit disordered behaviour. The suffering of the majority is not visible to the outside world.

Ignorance, misconception, fear and social stigma are the main reasons. Strong visual images or personal experience with an occasional disturbed patient may leave a lasting impression on our minds.

At a personal level, we believe that we should be in total control of our mind all the time. A misconception that a mental illness always leads to loss of self-control because of a “weak mind” makes us take a “not me” stand.

Acceptance increases when we believe that mental disorders are like any other physical illness, and can happen to anybody.

It is estimated that 15 – 20 % of the population experiences some or the other form of psychological distress during their lifetime. World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that Depression will be the number one illness in terms of impact by 2030.

In spite of such a high prevalence, the number of people actually receiving proper care is very small due to various reasons. This creates a false impression in the public that mental illnesses are rare.


A Psychiatrist is a medically qualified doctor with postgraduate training in Psychiatry. He / she can diagnose mental disorders and use both psychological and medical interventions to treat these.

A Psychologist is a nonmedical professional with postgraduate training in Psychology. They conduct psychological testing and can use psychotherapeutic techniques (excluding medicines) to help people.

A Psychiatric social worker is trained in evaluation and management of social aspects of mental health.

A Counsellor is a professional who gives focussed advice. Counselling can be done by all of the above mentioned professionals.

Other members of the team of Mental Health Professionals [MHP] are Psychiatric Nurse, Occupational Therapist and Special Educators.

A Neurologist (Neuro physician or Neurosurgeon) is a medical expert who deals with disorders of the brain due to physical causes (strokes, tumors, infections, etc.).