mental illness

noun
variants: or mental disorder or less commonly mental disease

Definition of mental illness

: any of a broad range of medical conditions (such as major depression, schizophrenia, obsessive compulsive disorder, or panic disorder) that are marked primarily by sufficient disorganization of personality, mind, or emotions to impair normal psychological functioning and cause marked distress or disability and that are typically associated with a disruption in normal thinking, feeling, mood, behavior, interpersonal interactions, or daily functioning

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from mental illness

mentally ill adjective

Examples of mental illness in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Before Mann, police shot Dazion Flenaugh across town, another black man troubled by drugs and mental illness. Anita Chabria, sacbee, "Police were called to handle an escalating mental-health crisis. This is why they backed off | The Sacramento Bee," 20 May 2018 But what most concerns Samdan and fellow herders is climate change, as droughts, harsh winters, and over-grazing threaten traditional livelihoods and drives younger people to the over-crowded capital, fueling pollution, crime, and mental illness. Max Baring, The Christian Science Monitor, "Mongolian herders leave nomadic lifestyle for the city," 3 May 2018 And last September, a large survey found a rise in serious mental illness in the U.S. too. Alex Berenson, WSJ, "Marijuana Is More Dangerous Than You Think," 4 Jan. 2019 Harford County Sheriff Jeffrey Gahler told news reporters Friday that the suspect, 26-year-old Snochia Moseley of Baltimore County, had been diagnosed with a mental illness in 2016. Fox News, "The Latest: Shooting victim was recent immigrant from Nepal," 21 Sep. 2018 Your responses on everything from learning how to advocate for yourself in the face of adversity to destigmatizing mental illness, showed us how young people can and will change the world. Shao Xinning, Seventeen, "This Teen Created Her Own Pen Pal Service in Order to Connect Girls Across China," 18 Mar. 2019 Psychiatrists need to be allowed to treat mental illness adequately and should have the ability to admit potentially dangerous psychotic people to a hospital. WSJ, "A Parkland, Fla., Father’s Lonely Crusade," 18 Jan. 2019 While the conversation surrounding mental illness is definitely improving in both its frequency and its sentiment, unfortunately, many still feel stigmatized. Molly Burford, Teen Vogue, "4 Ways You Might Accidentally Be Perpetuating Mental Health Stigma," 28 Dec. 2018 Schizophrenia is a mental illness that distorts the way people think, feel, and behave, according to the NIMH. Carolyn L. Todd, SELF, "9 Things You Should Know About Taking Antipsychotic Drugs," 7 Dec. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'mental illness.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of mental illness

1724, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about mental illness

Statistics for mental illness

Last Updated

13 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for mental illness

The first known use of mental illness was in 1724

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for mental illness

mental illness

noun
variants: or mental disorder also mental disease

Medical Definition of mental illness

: any of a broad range of medical conditions (such as major depression, schizophrenia, obsessive compulsive disorder, or panic disorder) that are marked primarily by sufficient disorganization of personality, mind, or emotions to impair normal psychological functioning and cause marked distress or disability and that are typically associated with a disruption in normal thinking, feeling, mood, behavior, interpersonal interactions, or daily functioning Some homeless families are also hindered by substance abuse and mental illness.— Ellen L. Bassuk, Scientific American, December 1991 Catatonia is usually an expression of mental disorders like bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, but it could also come from other medical problems, such as a brain tumor.— Forrest Wickman, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 31 May 2012 mental diseases such as schizophrenia and manic depression may either involve more than one gene or may result from a complex mix of genetic predisposition and environmental rotten luck.— Natalie Angier, The New York Times Book Review, 12 Aug. 1990

Other Words from mental illness

mentally ill adjective
mentally ill patients Mental health workers … perform a wide variety of therapeutic, supportive, and preventative functions for persons who are mentally ill and developmentally disabled. — Barbara M. Swanson, Careers in Health Care, 1989

mental illness

noun
mental ill·​ness

Legal Definition of mental illness

2 : a mental condition marked primarily by sufficient disorganization of personality, mind, and emotions to seriously impair the normal psychological and often social functioning of the individual

called also mental disorder

More from Merriam-Webster on mental illness

Britannica English: Translation of mental illness for Arabic Speakers

Comments on mental illness

What made you want to look up mental illness? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

a strong desire or propensity

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Challenging Vocabulary Quiz Returns!

  • stylized drawing of woman pole vaulting across gap to get trophy
  • Which is a synonym of fuliginous?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!