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COLUMBIA - For more than 65 years, Mental Health America and their affiliates have observe May as Mental Health Month. They work to bring mental health awareness to millions of people by reaching out to media, creation of local events and offering a downloadable toolkit with materials that local organizations can use to help spread the message of mental health.

The hope is that if people share their own experiences and points of view, they may help others who are struggling to understand what they are going through themselves. It may help someone to figure out if they (or their loved ones) are showing signs of a mental illness. MHA believes that sharing is the key to breaking down the discrimination and stigma surrounding mental illnesses, and to show others that they are not alone in their feelings and their symptoms. (Source: http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/)

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) shares the following statistics on mental illness:

  • Approximately 1 in 5 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.—10 million, or 4.2%—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 (PTSD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) 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.

The statistics surrounding mental illness are staggering. An estimated 26% of homeless adults staying in shelters live with serious mental illness and an estimated 46% live with severe mental illness and/or substance use disorders. With regards to our prison population, approximately 20% of state prisoners and 21% of local jail prisoners have a mental health condition; and 70% of youth in juvenile justice systems have at least one mental health condition, with at least 20% living with a serious mental illness.

It is believed that half of all chronic mental illness begins by age 14 and three-quarters by age 24. And when you learn that, in the past year, only 41% of adults in the U.S. who are suffering from a mental health condition received mental health services and only 62.9% with a serious mental illness received mental health services, it’s understandable how the above statistics exist.

Without treatment, many consequences can occur. Did you know…?

  • Serious mental illness costs America $193.2 billion in lost earnings per year.
  • 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 10–24 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.

(Source: https://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-By-the-Numbers)

This month, we hope that you will be aware of the seriousness of mental illness and to know that there is hope.