Our View: Think about mental health

Published 9:25 am Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Each year millions of Americans face the reality of living with a mental illness. In the U.S., 1 in 5 adults live with a mental health condition, and 20 percent of youth age 13 to 18 live with a mental health condition.

During May, the National Alliance for Mental Illness focuses on raising awareness of mental health by fighting stigma, providing support, educating the public and advocating for policies that support people with mental illness and their families.

Mental health conditions affect millions of people every day, whether directly or indirectly.

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According to NAMI:

— 1 in 25 (10 million) adults in the United States lives with a serious mental illness.

— 43.8 million adults in the United States face the day-to-day reality of living with a mental illness.

— Half of all lifetime mental health conditions begin by age 14 and 75 percent by age 24, but early intervention programs can help.

— African Americans and Hispanic Americans used mental health services at about half the rate of whites in the past year, and Asian Americans at about one-third the rate.

— 90 percent of those who die by suicide have an underlying mental illness. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, but suicide is preventable.

— 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 the right treatments and supports.

— Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide and is a major contributed to the global burden of disease.

— Serious mental illness costs American $193.2 billion in lost earning every year.

— 24 percent of state prisoners have a recent history of a mental health condition.

— Approximately 26 percent of homeless adults staying in shelters live with a serious mental illness.

— Among the 20.2 million adults in the U.S. who experienced a substance use disorder, 50.5 percent, or 10.2 millions adults have cooccurring mental health disorders.

While mental health has a impact on the person with the diagnosis, research shows it also has more far-reaching impacts on the family, the community and the country as whole.

There are a few ways to observe National Mental Health Month throughout May.

First, if you believe you have a mental illness, seek help from a doctor or other mental health professional. Mental illnesses and conditions can be treated with therapy, medications and other means to allow those with diagnoses to live full, satisfying lives.

If you or a family member or loved one have a mental illness, don’t battle the problem alone. Connect with others who are impacted by mental illness. NAMI hosts bi-monthly meetings for individuals, families and friends affected my mental illness. Meetings are at 7 p.m. the first and third Monday of the month at Emmanuel Episcopal Church. The meetings are always listed on The Sun’s community calendar.

One important way to recognize NMHM is by educating yourself and others to break down the stigma around mental illness. NAMI.org is a great resource.

NAMI also offers a helpline at 800-950-NAMI or info@NAMI.org. If you or a loved one needs help in a crisis, text NAMI to 741741.

People who experience mental illness are still valuable members of society. They are our family, friends, neighbors and coworkers. They deserve respect and understanding. They deserve to be able to seek treatment without guilt and to be able to speak openly about their experiences without judgment.