There are certain maladies that can accurately be described as mental illnesses. Maladies that manifest themselves as diseases of behavior or personality, without any other physical symptoms can correctly be called mental illnesses. It is important to understand the nature of mental illness in order to help those who suffer from them.
I believe the words "metal illness" still hold a lot of prejudice, but they do in fact describe certain maladies. We need to retrain our minds to not look down on those with mental illness. Mental illness is far more common than people would like to admit and these problems need to be addressed just as much physical ailments.
Mental illness is not meant to define anything other than to flag a disorder if you will. Just as physical illness nor medical illness defines whether it is a cold or dementia. The most critical issue for me as treating psychiatric provider when someone says 'mental illness is then to determine if this is actually a personality or psychiatric, or neurological issue or part of all, as that is what determines treatment, so that is where the importance comes in.
The idea that all behavior is considered deviant from the norm has evolved somewhat since the study of psychiatry first emerged. At one time, all deviant behavior was considered "illness" in the regard that it was believed the person was sick and could be cured. Many mental "illnesses" today are actually conditions that do not negatively affect the physical health of individuals nor can they be cured.
Its very hard to put a finger on what mental illness is, and many things today considered illnesses are too mild to really be thought of as such - especially when people are happy with them, or are content in their lives. Mental illness is serious and deserves respect, but not everything is illness.
We must remember you and me we are in our brains thinking. Therefore, it stands to reason that sometimes there can be differences in the brain that are of the person's own doing and I don't mean drugs I mean by choosing to think and live one's life in maladaptive ways. Psychiatry so far as refused to pinpoint a certain part of the brain and say "this is where decisions are made hence if something is found wrong here then the person is not mentally ill because they could easily get out of the problem by changing their thoughts." It's fishy until they do.
The term 'mental illness' does not accurately describe certain maladies. There are many forms of mental illness and should not be categorized with all others. The human brain is the most complicated part of the human body. When we think of someone with mental illness we always think of someone that is bad off and it should not be that way.