According to the Vermont Department of Corrections Agency of Human Services serious mental illness is "substantial disorder of thought, mood, perception, orientation or memory, any which grossly impairs judgment, behavior, capacity to recognize reality, or ability to meet the ordinary demands of life. This includes, but is not necessarily limited to, diagnoses of schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, psychotic conditions not otherwise specified, bipolar disorder, and severe depressive disorders."
The good thing is serious mental illness can and do get treated with success. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), "The best treatments for serious mental illnesses today are highly effective; between 70 and 90 percent of individuals have significant reduction of symptoms and improved quality of life with a combination of pharmacological and psychosocial treatments and supports."
To learn more about serious mental illness visit NAMI, or to learn more about schizophrenia visit Schizophrenia Society of Novia Scotia (Canada).