May is Mental Health Awareness Month

Each year millions of Americans face the reality of living with a mental illness. The month of May is Mental Health Awareness Month in the United States. Mental Health Awareness Month has been observed across the country in May since the year 1949.

Researcher’s say there is growing support for more mental health resources being made available for everyone, but especially for children and teenagers.

What is a mental illness?

A mental illness is a condition that affects a person’s thinking, feeling or mood. Such conditions may affect someone’s ability to relate to others and function each day. Each person will have different experiences, even people with the same diagnosis.

Recovery, including meaningful roles in social life, school and work, is possible, especially when you start treatment early and play a strong role in your own recovery process.

A mental health condition isn’t the result of one event. Research suggests multiple, linking causes. Genetics, environment and lifestyle influence whether someone develops a mental health condition. A stressful job or home life makes some people more susceptible, as do traumatic life events like being the victim of a crime. Biochemical processes and circuits and basic brain structure may play a role, too.

Recovery and Wellness

One in 4 adults experiences a mental health condition every year. One in 17 lives with a serious mental illness such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. In addition to a person’s directly experiencing a mental illness, family, friends and communities are also affected.

Half of mental health conditions begin by age 14, and 75% of mental health conditions develop by age 24. The normal personality and behavior changes of adolescence may mimic or mask symptoms of a mental health condition. Early engagement and support are crucial to improving outcomes and increasing the promise of recovery.

Why the awareness so important: Mental Health has been creating an environment of shame, fear and silence that prevents many people from seeking help and treatment. The perception of mental illness won’t change unless we act to change it.

Prevalence Of Mental Illness

• Approximately 1 in 4 adults in the U.S.—43.8 million, or 18.5%—experiences mental illness in a given year.

• Approximately 1 in 25 adults in the U.S.—9.8 million, or 4.0%—experiences a serious mental illness in a given year that substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities.

• Approximately 1 in 5 youth aged 13–18 (21.4%) experiences a severe mental disorder at some point during their life. For children aged 8–15, the estimate is 13%.

• 1.1% of adults in the U.S. live with schizophrenia.

• 2.6% of adults in the U.S. live with bipolar disorder.

• 6.9% of adults in the U.S.—16 million—had at least one major depressive episode in the past year.

• 18.1% of adults in the U.S. experienced an anxiety disorder such as posttraumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and specific phobias.

• Among the 20.2 million adults in the U.S. who experienced a substance use disorder, 50.5%—10.2 million adults—had a co-occurring mental illness.8\

Consequences Of Lack Of Treatment

• Mood disorders, including major depression, dysthymic disorder and bipolar disorder, are the third most common cause of hospitalization in the U.S. for both youth and adults aged 18–44.

• Individuals living with serious mental illness face an increased risk of having chronic medical conditions. Adults in the U.S. living with serious mental illness die on average 25 years earlier than others, largely due to treatable medical conditions.

• Over one-third (37%) of students with a mental health condition age 14¬–21 and older who are served by special education drop out—the highest dropout rate of any disability group.

• Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S., the 3rd leading cause of death for people aged 10–14 and the 2nd leading cause of death for people aged 15–24.

• More than 90% of children who die by suicide have a mental health condition.

• Each day an estimated 18-22 veterans die by suicide.

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