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Life is busy, and our mental wellbeing may not make our priority lists. But mental health has everything to do with overall wellbeing and requires tending, just like our physical health.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month, a great time to begin developing habits for building resiliency. One in five adults in the U.S. experienced mental illness in the past year, and more than half of all residents will be diagnosed with a mental disorder during their lifetime, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Healthy habits can help prevent the onset of mental illness and ease symptoms.The NIH recommends six strategies to improve emotional health:
Brighten your outlook:
Get quality sleep
Strengthen social connections
Cope with loss
People who develop mental illness can get better with a combination of counseling, medication, and self-care. Too often, however, they don’t receive services. In 2017, 57 percent of adults with mental illness didn’t get treatment, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Among young adults, 62 percent went untreated.
A lack of understanding about mental illness and its stigma can create roadblocks to treatment,’’ said NewBridge Services CEO Robert L. Parker.
Mental Health Statistics
That is significant, especially with rates of depression and suicide on the rise. Suicide rates went up more than 30 percent in half of the states between 1999 and 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A recent study found a doubling in the number of emergency room visits by children and teens for suicide thoughts and attempts between 2007 and 2015.
Nearly 13 percent of children ages 12 to 17 surveyed reported suffering from at least one major depressive episode in the past year, according to the 2019 State of Mental Health in America report issued by Mental Health America.
About 20 percent of adults and children in the U.S. have mental illness. According to the NIMH, 44.6 million adults had some form of mental illness in 2017. (Young adults, ages 18 to 25 years, had the highest prevalence.) That includes about 11.2 million who have a serious mental illness that interferes with their daily routine. Half of mental health conditions begin by age 14, and 75 percent of mental health conditions develop by age 24.
Symptoms of Mental Illnesses
Mental illnesses can affect thinking, mood and behavior. They include: anxiety disorders like phobias; mood disorders like depression and bipolar disorder; behavioral disorders like ADHD; personality disorders, psychotic disorders like schizophrenia; and trauma- and stress-related disorders.
The severity of mental illness can be reduced through early intervention. Warning signs of mental illness, according to the NIMH, include:
Mental Health America offers free online mental health screening tools to help people determine if they have symptoms of mental illness at http://screening.mentalhealthamerica.net/screening-tools.
Reducing the stigma of mental illness can make it easier for people to seek treatment. We all can help by:
“The sooner mental illness is identified and treated, the better the outcome,” Parker said. “People with mental illness are able to enjoy fulfilling, productive lives when they have effective treatments available to them.”