May is Mental Health Month

May is Mental Health Awareness month, a time for people to learn more about mental health illnesses, seek help when needed and assist others with obtaining help.  Mental Health America’s theme is “Life with a Mental Illness.”  The premise is that sharing is the key to breaking down the discrimination and stigmas surrounding mental illnesses, and to show persons that they are not alone in their feelings and symptoms.  Mental health illnesses impact millions of Americans every day.  Vital mental health facts:

  • 1 in 5 Americans have diagnosable mental health illnesses
  • Fewer than 25% of people with mental health illnesses seek treatment
  • The three most common mental health concerns today are: depression, anxiety, and bi-polar.
  • Mental health disorders may be caused by genetics, neurochemistry, psychological and social characteristics.
  • Most mental health treatment is completed between six and twelve months. (Mental Health America)

DEPRESSION:  Nearly 7% of American Adults had a major depressive episode in 2014. (Mental Health America) Depressive disorders involve extended periods of feeling extremely low and disrupt a person’s ability to enjoy life.  Depression impacts a person’s body, thoughts and behaviors.  Depressive symptoms can be treated effectively for most with talk therapy and/or appropriate medications.

ANXIETY:  Over 21% of American adults between 18-64 are diagnosed with an anxiety disorder each year.  Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S.  and highly treatable but only about 1/3rd of those suffering receive treatment(Anxiety and Depression Association of America).  Some of the most common types of anxiety disorders are:  panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, phobias and social anxiety.  People with anxiety experience a constant struggle for control and inability to relax.

TEENS and YOUNG ADULTS:  Mental health disorders also affect the young.  1 in 5 live with a mental health condition-half develop the disorder by age 14 and ¾ by age 24(National Alliance on Mental Illness).  Many teens and young adults live full lives with mental illnesses.  Parents with teens should keep communication open, understand what mental health disorders are, and be attentive to teen’s behavior.  Red flags which warrant attention are:  excessive sleeping, loss of self-esteem, loss of interest in favorite pastimes, academic failure, change of weight and/or eating habits, personality changes.  Concerns should be addressed with the teen, pediatrician and a counseling professional.