May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Warm spring sunshine and blue skies present a perfect opportunity to march or walk to raise funds for your favorite mental health charity. It's also a great time to "Mind Your Health." That's the Mental Health Awareness Month theme for 2014.
It's a reminder from Mental Health America for you to recognize the importance of "...mental health to overall health and wellness." One of the most important ways you can do that during the month of May is to become more aware of mental illness and the ways it can effect you and those around you.
More Common Than You Think
The 2013 "Mental Illness Facts and Numbers" compiled by National Alliance of Mental illness (NAMI) reveal that approximately 61.5 million adults--one out of four in the U. S.--deal with mental illness in any given year. One in 17 adults live with schizophrenia, major depression, bipolar disorder, or other serious mental illnesses. Approximately 20 percent of youths age 13 to 18 and 13 percent of children age 8 to 15 experience severe mental disorders.
Significant Social and Financial Impact
Mental illness has long term financial consequences; but treatment isn't the only factor to consider when calculating its costs. The financial impact includes the cost of many lost opportunities.
- Annually, Americas lose 193.2 billion dollars due to lost earnings.
- Depression and other mood disorders are the third most common cause of hospitalization in America.
- Those with serious mental illnesses live with an increased risk of suffering from serious medical conditions more than other Americans.
- Adults with serious mental illnesses die an average of 25 years earlier, usually from treatable conditions.
- Mentally ill special education students 14 and older have a 50% drop out rate.
- Suicide is the third leading cause of death for ages 15 to 24 years. 90 percent of persons who die from suicide had one or more mental disorders.
Many People Don't Receive Treatment
NAMI statistics explain that 60 percent of mentally ill adults and nearly half of all mentally ill children ages 8 to 15 receive no treatment. Included in those figures are African American and Hispanic Americans who are treated at about 50 percent of the rate of white Americans. Asian Americans are treated at about one-third the rate of white patients.
The symptoms of chronic mental illness usually begin early in life--50 percent by age 14, 75 percent by age 24. Yet there are often lengthy delays between first symptoms and first treatment--sometimes decades.
Connection Between Homelessness & Mental Illness
A National Coalition for the Homeless fact sheet explains that 26 percent of homeless shelter residents had severe mental illness. To put that figure into proper perspective, it should be compared to the general United States population, where only 6 percent of all adults suffer from mental illness.
Use this month of heightened mental health awareness to get to know the facts about mental health. Taking a screening test is one of the quickest and easiest ways to determine whether you are experiencing symptoms of a mental health condition.
Find out what mental illness is and is not. Learn about symptoms, treatments, and recovery. And as Mental Health America suggests, don't forget to "Mind Your Health."
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