Unshelved by Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum
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Sunday, October 04, 2015


This is Mental Illness Awareness Week
One in five adults in the United States, approximately 43.7 million, experiences mental illness in a given year. One in 25 adults, about 13.6 million, will experience a serious mental illness in a given year that substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activity. Current research reveals that only 41 percent of adults in the nation with a mental health condition received mental health services in the past year. Research also suggests that half of all chronic mental illness begins by age 14; three-quarters by age 24, and despite effective treatment options available, there are generally long delays – sometimes decades – between the onset of symptoms and treatment.

According to the American Journal of Psychiatry, serious mental illness costs America $193.2 billion in lost earnings per year. The Department of Health and Human Services states mood disorders, including major depression, dysthymic disorder and bipolar disorder, are the third most common cause of hospitalization in the United States for both youths and adults ages 18 to 44. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, the third leading cause for people ages 10 to 24 and the second leading cause for people aged 15-24. Ninety percent of children who die by suicide have a mental health condition, and each day an estimated 18 to 22 veterans die by suicide.
For more information on mental illness, check out the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). It's a great organisation, and I can proudly say I am a member. I've both taken and taught an excellent, evidence-based class for family members and loved ones of those with mental illness, sponsored by NAMI, called Family-to-Family. I've also battled mental illness myself for most of my life, including bipolar disorder. I'm lucky--I've gotten the help I need medically, both in terms of medication and therapy, and I have very understanding loved ones. But many people do not even seek out help because of the stigma that still remains. Mental illness, which takes many forms, is a biological disorder of the brain chemistry. It should be seen as one might see diabetes or heart conditions--natural diseases that affect certain aspects of a person's life and can be life-threatening, but although incurable at present, they are also treatable. So stamp out the stigma. Talk to your loved ones, whether you're concerned they may be affected by mental illness, or if you, yourself are. Be stigma free. Reach out. Life can get better; find the support you need.

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