Mental Health Awareness Month is extremely important. It helps the world learn about mental health disorders and provides hope to those who are suffering. The stigma around mental illness is unfortunately still pervasive. Stigma is deadly, making people feel ashamed for something they have no control over. Mental illness is a disease, not a choice. So many people suffer silently and I strongly believe this needs to change.
Why Mental Health Awareness MATTERS
If you’ve been struggling with feeling sad or hopeless it’s likely NOT a phase. If your child has been staying up all night or worries constantly, it’s NOT due to the scary movie they saw. Misconceptions about depression, anxiety and other mental health disorders prolong the pain and promote stigma.
Mental Health Awareness saves lives. When we speak up about our own experiences and empower those who are struggling we break down the barriers to treatment. So many people are afraid of discrimination and stigma around mental health issues. However, the world is changing. There are more outspoken celebrities, therapists (myself included) and organizations out there to help you, your family or a loved one get the help they need in a compassionate and effective way. A few of my new favorites are:
- Active Minds an awesome organziation providing mental health help and awareness to college campuses
- #ImNotAshamed by Project Fab Life putting an end to mental health stigma and empowering others to share their stories.
- This is My Brave. A fantastic nonprofit sharing stories of hope, recovery and encouragement. helping those who struggle get help and share their stories.
Mental illness affects more teens and adults than most people assume. In fact:
- Approximately 18.5% of Americans struggle with a mental health disorder each year. That is 1 in 5 Americans. That means someone you love or someone you know is struggling.
- 1 in 25 U.S. adults experience a mental illness that interferes with their quality of life each year.
- Mental health disorders and addiction affect more than 10.2 million Americans (these are reported imagine how many people don’t report, that means they are suffering silently 🙁 without care).
- Approximately 18.1% of American adults suffer from an anxiety disorder.
- Of state prisoners, approximately 24% have a mental health condition.
- Worldwide, depression is the number one cause of disability.
- Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the US. 90% of those who die by suicide had a mental illness.
- LGBTQ individuals are twice as likely to have mental health conditions.
- More than 11% of transgender individuals were denied care by mental health clinics due to discrimination.
Mental Health Awareness: Children and Teens are Suffering
- For teens ages 13 to 18, 1 in 5 (21.4%) will experience mental illness at some point in their lives.
- In the juvenile justice systems, 70% of teens have at least one mental health diagnosis.
- About 11% of teens (ages 13 to 18) have a mood disorder.
- About 10% of teens have a behavioral or conduct disorder.
- About 8% of teens suffer from an anxiety disorder.
- More than half of all chronic (lifetime) mental health illnesses begin by the age of 14. About 75% of chronic mental health begins by age 24. The truth is very few of these people get treatment before adulthood.
- Suicide is the second leading cause of death in youth ages 15 to 24.
- LGBTQ youths are 2 to 3 times more likely to attempt suicide.
These statistics come from The National Alliance of Mental Illness.
Mental Health Awareness Provides Access to Treatment and Recovery
You may be thinking “But why are these numbers so high? Why don’t they get therapy or get treatment?” Therapy isn’t always available, affordable and many people need more than that. Unfortunately, there are often long delays between the onset of early symptoms and treatment. By becoming aware of the signs and symptoms early on parents, caregivers and those who are suffering can reduce the chances of suffering alone, get help and feel better. That is why Mental Health Awareness Month is so important!
- Of adults in the U.S. with a mental health condition, only 41% receive services in the past year. For adults with serious mental health illness that interfere with life, only 62% have received mental health services.
- For kids age 8 to 15, only half have received services in the previous year. If parents suspect mental illness, they should: talk to a pediatrician, seek out a mental health specialist, talk to the school, and connect with other families dealing with the same issues (there are awesome resources on HealthyPlace.com and many websites that promote confidentiality).
- The average delay between early symptoms and treatment is 8 to 10 years! That means that most people suffer as teenagers and long into adulthood.
I would suggest to get a second opinion if you feel like your doctor or practitioner doesn’t take your worries or concerns seriously. I’ve met hundreds of families who had to change providers, search for answers and finally found the right treatment. For more information on mental health awareness, please visit the National Alliance on Mental Health. For more information on Mental Health Awareness Month, please visit Mental Health America.
To help end the stigma search #endthestigma on social media and connect with NAMI and take the pledge to end stigma.
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Emily Roberts MA, LPC is The Guidance Girl. Her goal is to help YOU become the most confident person you know! Emily is an award-winning author Express Yourself: A Teen Girls Guide to Speaking Up and Becoming Who You Are, Psychotherapist, TV & Media Contributor, Educational Speaker, and parenting consultant. She travels around the country educating girls, women, and parents. Express Yourself is available at bookstores nationwide and on Amazon. To learn more about Emily click here.