In the U.S., May is Mental Health Month. It’s a time when we focus on mental health issues like depression, anxiety and others with the goal of helping people better understand what mental illness is and how to address it in ways that produce the most positive outcomes.
A good first step in determining how to manage any condition — mental, emotional or physical — is to get a sense of the scope of the problem. Once you have an understanding of the big picture, you can decide how to tackle specific issues.
Mental Health by the Numbers
Here are some statistics gathered by the National Alliance on Mental Illness from multiple sources that make it clear that nearly all Americans will be touched by mental illness in some way in their lifetime — either their own condition or that of a friend or loved one:
- Approximately 1 in 5 adults in America experiences a mental illness.
- Nearly 1 in 25 (10 million) adults in America lives with a serious mental illness.
- Approximately 50 percent of all chronic mental illness begins by the age of 14; 75 percent by the age of 24.
- Nearly 25 percent of state prisoners have “a recent history of a mental health condition.”
- Approximately 26 percent of homeless adults staying in shelters live with a serious mental illness.
- Approximately 90 percent of those who die by suicide have an underlying mental illness. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S.
When you look at the numbers, there is no question that by increasing awareness of mental health issues like anxiety, depression and others (during Mental Health Month and all year long), and by finding ways to get more people the help they need, we can make the world a happier, healthier and safer place for everyone.
Take Control of Your Mental Health
While mental health professionals play a critical role in helping people who are struggling with a mental illness, it’s important to keep in mind that you do, too. As you come to believe that you may have a mental health condition that requires treatment, here are some things you can do to take charge of your situation:
- Ask your doctor to help you find a specialist or call a mental health center to ask about their services. If you feel your need for help is urgent, be sure to mention that.
- Make an appointment to talk with a mental health specialist.
- Get the most out of your appointment by being ready to talk openly about your symptoms and your goals in seeking treatment.
- Don’t hesitate to ask questions about things like what your symptoms mean, how often you and the care provider should meet, how long it will take you to feel better and what you should do between appointments. When a treatment plan is developed, be sure you understand it.
- Remember that treatment takes time, and stick with your therapy, medication, etc.
- Speak up if your treatment plan doesn’t seem to be working for you.
- Keep a wellness log that details your progress.
- Call Colorado Crisis Services at 1-844-493-8255 anytime you feel like you’re heading into the crisis zone. Caring therapists and peer specialists are on hand 24/7/365 to help you.
The Outlook is Bright
Both for individuals facing mental illnesses like depression, anxiety and others, and for our country in general, the outlook on mental illness is bright. Thanks to observances like Mental Health Month, we’ve made great strides in eliminating the stigma of mental illness and encouraging people to get help. But the statistics on mental illness remind us that there’s still much work to be done!
If you or someone you know needs help with any mental or emotional issues you are facing, contact us online at communityreachcenter.org or by phone at 303-853-3500 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. We have centers in the Northside Denver metro area of Adams County including the cities of Thornton, Westminster, Northglenn, Commerce City and Brighton.