By: Carol Briggs, Clinical Intern
This year, October 4th through October 10th marks Mental Illness Awareness Week. This observance was started in 1990 by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) to increase understanding and awareness around mental illness. Consider these statistics:
- 1 in 5 people live with a mental health condition.
- The prevalence of anxiety disorders in the U.S. is 19% among adults in the past 12 months. For depression that number is 7%. For PTSD, it’s 4%.
- 17% of youth, ages 6-17, experience a mental health disorder.
- 19% of adults with mental illness also have a substance use disorder.
With these numbers, it’s likely you, a loved one, or someone you know has experienced, or will experience a mental health condition at some point in life. We know that our mental health is directly tied to physical health and vice versus. So, why not talk about it in the same way we talk about physical health?
The stigma surrounding mental health has been silencing and isolative. Stigma influences our decision to seek treatment. It also impacts our access to services.
Stigma also leads to these harmful effects:
- Feelings of isolation due to lack of understanding by family, friends, or co-workers
- Fewer opportunities for work, school or social activities or trouble finding housing
- Bullying, physical violence or harassment
- The belief that you’ll never succeed at certain challenges or that you can’t improve your situation
One way to combat stigma, is to talk openly about mental illness and how it impacts our lives. One of the reasons I decided to become a therapist is because I know from personal experience the positive impact it can have in people’s lives. Because of my own experience and the experiences of loved ones, I understand the fear, shame, hopelessness, and disenfranchisement that is magnified by stigma.
Consider the statistics above again. Within those numbers are also individuals who overcome, thrive, and productively navigate life despite anxiety, depression, addiction, mania, schizophrenia, and numerous other mental health issues. And the journey of recovery and wellness is not one you have to make alone.
If you got an infection, I’m hoping you’d see a doctor. If you’re not feeling your best mentally, please, reach out to a mental health professional. Chances are, they’ve not felt so great mentally at times too. Mental illness is not something to keep quiet about, “brush under the rug”, or feel ashamed for experiencing. It’s part of being human, particularly in 2020, but there are solutions and skills to cope.
We can help. Call for a free 15- minute phone consultation today! 847-854-4333
References at: www.nami.org/policystats