Defining Mental Illness

Schedule 1 of the Mental Health Act 2009 (SA) spells out what is not mental illness. A person is not mentally ill merely because of any one or more of the following:

  • political opinion or belief;
  • religious opinion or belief;
  • philosophy;
  • sexual preference or sexual orientation;
  • political activity, religious activity, sexual activity or sexual promiscuity;
  • immoral conduct;
  • developmental disability of mind;
  • taking alcohol or any other drug;
  • anti-social behaviour;
  • economic or social status; or
  • membership of a particular cultural or racial group. 

However, if a person has sustained serious or permanent physiological, biochemical or psychological impairment as a result of alcohol or drugs then alcohol or drug use can be regarded as an indication that the person is suffering from a mental illness. 

Where there is uncertainty as to whether a particular condition is a mental illness, contact a doctor or a Community Mental Health Service.  In an emergency contact the  Assessment and Crisis Intervention Service (ACIS) on 13 14 65. 

Defining Mental Illness  :  Last Revised: Thu Aug 18th 2016
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