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Mental Illness Awareness

by Nicole Nutter

\"MentalIn January 2012, a government report was released confirming that mental illness is a rising problem in the United States. In the United States, one in five adults suffered from mental illness in the year 2010. That equates to roughly 50 million people. Young adults and women seemed to make up a larger percentage of those struggling with mental illness. The survey providing these numbers was done in person around the United States, and was given to 67,500 people who were 12 years of age and older.

The results posted on The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration\'s (SAMHSA) website are said to include statistical information of persons with any mental illness (AMI), serious mental illness (SMI), suicidal thoughts and behavior, major depressive episode (MDE), special help for depression (among adults with MDE), and mental health service utilization. Estimates presented in this report for youths include MDE, special help for depression (among youths with MDE), and mental health service utilization.

An article published by Reuters said that mental illness among adults had been defined by the administration as diagnosable mental, behavioral or emotional disorders, excluding developmental disorders and substance abuse.

\"depressionThe study conducted by SAMHSA found that 23 percent of women had experienced a mental illness, compared to 16.8 percent of men. Age also played a role in statistics; the study determined that compared to those aged 50 and older, the rate of mental illness was twice as high in the age group 18 to 25. Another frightening statistic this survey showed was that 11.4 million American adults (5 percent of total adults surveyed in 2010) had dealt with mental illness severe enough to considerably interfere with their lives.

Interference could mean anything from substance abuse to suicidal thoughts. It was discovered that the development of substance dependence or substance abuse disorders were three times more likely in adults suffering from a mental illness than in an American adult who had not experienced mental illness. A heartbreaking statistic given was that about 8.7 million American adults had serious thoughts of suicide in the past year, with 2.5 million making suicide plans and 1.1 million attempting to take their own lives.

The statistics of mental illnesses in youth were just as shocking. In the past year, 1.9 million teenagers have suffered a major depressive episode. This is defined as a period of at least 2 weeks when a person experienced a depressed mood or loss of interest, which means 8 percent of youths ages 12 to 17 struggled through this. These teenagers were using illicit drugs at twice the rate of the teenagers who had not battled depression.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness is dedicated to mental illness education and recovery. They describe mental illnesses as medical conditions that disrupt a person\'s thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to others, and daily functioning. They say that often those experiencing these conditions cannot cope with life\'s ordinary demands. Taking a positive stance on the possibility of recovering from mental illness, NAMI wants people to know that mental illnesses can be helped and managed.

\"children\'sNAMI\'s website specifies that ?mental illnesses can affect persons of any age, race, religion, or income. Mental illnesses are not the results of personal weakness, lack of character or poor upbringing. Based on the statistics shown in the SAMHSA survey, it is obvious that dealing with mental illness is something that needs to be taken seriously, and soon. Without help the consequences of mental illness for the individual and society are staggering: unnecessary disability, unemployment, substance abuse, homelessness, inappropriate incarceration, suicide and wasted lives; the economic cost of mental illness that are not helped is more than 100 billion dollars each year in the United States.

Some serious mental illnesses include obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), major depression, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), panic disorder, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder and schizophrenia. Although serious mental illness may seem scary, productive individual plans allow recovery to be possible. Medication, psychosocial help and peer support groups can all be important components of the recovery process. NAMI states that, Early identification and help is of vital importance; by ensuring access to the help needed and recovery supports that are proven effective, recovery is accelerated and the further harm related to the course of illness is minimized.

Don?t be embarrassed or afraid to talk to your doctor if you feel like you might be suffering from a mental illness. It is better to receive necessary help right away in order to stop the damage that could be done to yourself, your relationships and even your career. If someone you know is struggling with a mental illness be sure to let them know you are there to support them, and be patient and understanding as they make their way towards recovery. Mental illness should be acknowledged as a real and manageable health condition, rather than ignored because it makes you uncomfortable.

For more information you can visit NAMI\'s website at www.nami.org, or call their information helpline at 1 (800) 950.6264

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