May is Mental Health Month. Throughout the month, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), works to generate national awareness and education about mental health. The NAMI platform includes fighting the stigma associated with mental illness, advocating for mental health care, and providing support for those in need. This year’s focus is #CureStigma, a campaign created to address the stigma of fear and shame frequently associated with mental illness. According to NAMI, the stigma is a primary reason that individuals refrain from seeking treatment.
In the United States, mental illness affects 1 in 5 adults each year or 43 million Americans. Similarly, NAMI quotes estimates from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) that 1 in 5 teens (age 13-18), experiences mental health problems during their lives.
Over 18% of adults have experienced some type of anxiety-related mental health issue. And, according to NAMI and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), over half of the 20 million adults who have a substance abuse problem also have a mental illness.
Unfortunately, less than half of all American adults with mental health conditions received treatment . Similarly, only half of youth with mental health illnesses received treatment, according to NIMH. And, when looking at the cost of treatments, specifically hospitalizations for mental illnesses, mental health illness is the third most common cause of hospitalization for Americans ages 18-44, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, The Department of Health & Human Services.
Taking these statistics a few steps further, we can see that the lack of mental health treatment is associated with a cascade of effects. If we look at the numbers of prisoners and youth in the juvenile justice system, according to the National Center for Mental Health and Juvenile Justice, 70% of youth in the juvenile justice system have mental health conditions.
Mental illness affects millions of Americans, and NAMI believes the best way to start healing our country is to eliminate the stigma and replace it with compassion and help. We can all do our part to spread the word and work towards helping individuals get the help they need by starting with #CureStigma.
For more information, visit NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, at https://www.nami.org. The NAMI hotline is 800-950-NAMI or text NAMI to 741741. And take the #CureStigma quiz at http://www.curestigma.org/.
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