Who Cares About National Mental Illness Awareness Week?

I wouldn’t blame you if you’ve tuned out the fact that it is Mental Illness Awareness Week. So what, right?

But know this: The likelihood that you, your child, or your partner has a mental illness is pretty high.

In fact, mental health illness is more prevalent than HIV, hay fever, asthma, and influenza, to name a few illnesses we think are epidemic.

Here are the numbers:

  • In any given year, about 20% of adults will experience a mental illness. That’s 1 in 5 or about 48 million people. Compare that to HIV infections, which are about 48,000 annually. That’s .0009% of the rate of mental health illness.

  • 18.1% of adults in the U.S. experienced an anxiety disorder such as posttraumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and specific phobias. That’s more people than were diagnosed with hay fever last year (17.6% according to the CDC)

  • Among the 20.7 million adults in the U.S. who experienced a substance use disorder last year -- which was more than the 18.7  million Americans with asthma -- 40.7% or 8.4 million adults had a co-occurring mental illness.

  • 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%. The percentage of children ever diagnosed with ADHD is 9.5% (according to the CDC).

  • 13.6 million, or 4.1% of American adults experiences a serious mental illness in a given year that substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities. However, last year there were only 53,470 verified specimens of flu recorded by the World Health Organization and National Respiratory and Enteric Virus Surveillance System collaborating laboratories in the United States.

Unfortunately, the likelihood is also high that you or they won’t seek help for their disorder. If you had HIV, asthma, the flu, or allergies, would you avoid seeing a doctor? Then why would you avoid seeing a mental health professional if you had anxiety, depression, or relationship issues?

The National Alliance of Mental Illness Stigma Free campaign aims to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health and seeking assistance.

“Join the campaign to turn stigma into hope. Promote acceptance and actively challenge social stereotypes. Through powerful words and actions, we will shift the social and systemic barriers for those living with mental health conditions and encourage acceptance and understanding. Individuals, companies, organizations and others can all take the pledge to learn more about mental illness, to see a person for who they are and take action on mental health issues. Take the pledge and raise awareness.”

Take the pledge here: http://www.nami.org/stigmafree

And seek help today. You CAN be happy again!