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Serious Mental Illness (SMI)

Serious mental illness (SMI) commonly refers to a diagnosis of psychotic disorders, bipolar disorder, personality disorders, complex depression and anxiety disorders, and eating disorders. SMIs are long-term illnesses involving substantial functional impairment.


Psychosis is when people lose some contact with reality. This might involve seeing or hearing things that other people cannot see or hear (hallucinations) and believing things that are not actually true (delusions)

The two main symptoms of psychosis are:

  • Hallucinations - where a person hears, sees and, in some cases, feels, smells or tastes things that do not exist outside their mind but can feel very real to the person affected by them; a common hallucination is hearing voices
  • Delusions - where a person has strong beliefs that are not shared by others; a common delusion is someone believing there's a conspiracy to harm them

The combination of hallucinations and delusional thinking can cause severe distress and a change in behaviour. Experiencing the symptoms of psychosis is often referred to as having a psychotic episode.

For more detailed information please see the following websites:

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A Partnership Between:

  • South West London and St George's Mental Health Trust
  • Recovery College
  • Sutton Age UK
  • Off the Record
  • Sutton Carers Centre
  • Citizen’s Advice Sutton
  • Sutton Mental Health Foundation
  • ieso