May marks Mental Health Awareness Month and as a mental health therapist I felt compelled to share some facts that may startle you.
Why is this important?
The topic of mental health is becoming more commonplace due to events like the Newtown massacre and the Germanwings plane crash, to name a few. Society is now realizing how crucial mental health is in regards to community safety. Untreated physical conditions have not had a community impact like untreated mental health conditions. Reducing the stigma of mental health is one way to bring awareness and hopefully compassion to the subject.
- Adults in the U.S. living with serious mental illness die on average 25 years earlier than others, largely due to treatable medical conditions. – See more at: https://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-By-the-Numbers#sthash.G4x8tIhU.dpuf
- Each day an estimated 18-22 veterans die by suicide. (Read more here)
- Half of all chronic mental illness begins by age 14; three-quarters by age 24 (nami.org) Click To Tweet. (Reference)
- That last statistic really startled me……You may want to read that one again.
- Approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S.—43.7 million, or 18.6%—experiences mental illness in a given year. (nami.org)
- Mental health is not just genetic. Coming from a healthy family or upbringing doesn’t mean you won’t develop a mental illness later in life.
- The way we deal with life affects our mental stability. A 24-year-old college student may deal with stress and money issues by running or hanging out with friends to unwind. A 30-year-old mom may deal with the stress of family responsibilities by drinking wine every night and excessive online shopping. Poor coping skills (drinking, pill use, compulsive behavior, self-abuse, anorexia, risky sexual behavior) can have long-term effects, which may last longer than the situation that caused the stress in the first place.
There’s two reasons to share this information: to reduce stigma and for people to realize that we are all at risk. I suffer from a chronic illness which puts me more at risk for mental health issues like depression. I have suffered from panic attacks in the past and understand how powerless I feel during and after an attack. What’s more troubling is the fear it causes my loved ones when they see me have an attack. In high stress situations my coping skills have to come before anything else, not just because of fibromyalgia flares but panic attacks as well.
Coping skills are interchangeable with self-care, which you know is a topic that I can’t shut up about!
How has mental health affected your life or someone close to you? Please share below.
Next week I’ll address another big awareness topic for May: Fibromyalgia Awareness