Severe and Persistent Mental Illness


Severe and Persistent Mental Illness (SPMI) is a term used to describe the complex symptoms of a mental illness that require ongoing treatment and management.

Although symptoms may come and go, having a Severe and Persistent Mental Illness requires persistent and intense therapeutic support, especially when a person with SPMI experiences a stressful event in their life.

Some of the more severe cases include when clients have difficulty caring for themselves, are restricted in daily living, and have an overall disposition that is not often socially acceptable, especially when it comes to maintaining relationships or having interpersonal interactions. Clients with SPMI also have difficulty concentrating, regularly fail to complete projects in a timely manner, and typically require assistance in setting a structured schedule.

Medication may control certain primary manifestations of a mental disorder, but may not affect functional limitations imposed by the mental disorder. Often it takes a combination of medication and psychiatric rehabilitation and support to manage a Severe and Persistent Mental Illness. But in a highly structured and supportive setting, many clients find they can minimize symptoms and signs of the underlying mental disorder.

Common Severe and Persistent Mental Illnesses
  • Schizophrenia, a serious mental illness that interferes with a person’s ability to think clearly, manage emotions, make decisions, and relate to others.
  • Schizoaffective disorder, a chronic mental health condition characterized primarily by symptoms of schizophrenia, such as hallucinations or delusions, and symptoms of a mood disorder, such as mania and depression.
  • Delusional disorder, a serious mental illness called a "psychosis," in which a person cannot tell what is real from what is imagined. The main feature of this disorder is the presence of delusions, unshakable beliefs in something untrue or not based on reality.
  • Bipolar disorder or manic depression, a chronic and recurring condition that involves severe moods swings that go back and forth from the highs of mania to the lows of depression.
  • Severe depression, a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest that affects how someone feels, thinks, and behaves, and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems.
  • Personality disorder, a deeply ingrained pattern of behavior that typically manifests during adolescence and then carries into adulthood, that causes long-term difficulties in personal relationships or in functioning in society.


If you'd like to talk to someone about severe and persistent mental illnesses, please contact us.


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