Mental Illness Awareness Week 2012 is October 7 – 13. Why should each of us individually care? What can we do as individuals?
The Significant Statistics Related to Mental Illness
- An estimated 26.2 percent of Americans ages 18 and older — about one in four adults — suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year. When applied to the 2004 U.S. Census residential population estimate for ages 18 and older, this figure translates to 57.7 million people. (National Institute of Mental Health) This makes it more common than cancer or diabetes.
- In 2006, 33,300 (approximately 11 per 100,000) people died by suicide in the U.S. More than 90 percent of people who die by suicide have a diagnosable mental disorder, most commonly a depressive disorder or a substance abuse disorder. (National Institute of Mental Health)
- Mental illness is one of the five key risk factors for developing a substance abuse problem and/or addiction. Not only that but substance abuse can lead to mental illness. As for the related statistics: 1) 37% of alcohol abusers and 53% of drug abusers have at least one serious mental illness, and 2) of all people diagnosed as mentally ill, 29% abuse either alcohol or drugs. (NAMI)
- Mental illness and substance abuse share common developmental risk factors. (NIDA)
What Can Each of Us Do?
- Understand mental illness for what it is – a brain disorder. That means something has changed in the brain’s neural circuitry as a result of the mental illness. This change in circuitry means a person’s brain works differently which changes that person’s thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Mental illness is not a moral weakness, a sign of poor character or a lack of willpower to “do just something,” nor does it discriminate by age, race, socio-economic status, sex — it can affect anyone.
- Understand that mental illness can successfully be treated. Treatment is individualized and may involve medications, individual or group therapy, and wellness programs – such as exercise, nutrition and stress coping strategies – to help fix important segments of the brain’s neural circuitry in order to make those function better. This better circuitry functioning improves a person’s ability to manage his/her mental illness.
- Support those we know who worry they may have, know they have or exhibit the symptoms of having a mental illness. To learn more about specific mental illnesses, click here, “NAMI Mental Illnesses.”
Browse SAMHSA’s Mental Illness Resources
- Find Youth Info – promotes the goal of positive, healthy outcomes for youth.
- Resource Center to Promote Acceptance, Dignity, and Social Inclusion – enhances acceptance and social inclusion by ensuring that people with mental health problems can live full, productive lives within communities without fear of prejudice and discrimination.
- What a Difference a Friend Makes – helping encourage, educate, and inspire people between 18 and 25 to support their friends who are experiencing mental health problems.
- National Registry of Effective Programs and Practices – a searchable online registry of more than 160 interventions supporting mental health promotion, substance abuse prevention, and mental health and substance abuse treatment.
- Getting Through Tough Economic Times – provides practical advice on how to deal with the effects financial difficulties can have on your physical and mental health.
- National Mental Health Treatment Facility Locator
Find a NAMI Peer and/or Family Support Group Near You
NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness. To find a location near you, check out Local NAMI Locator