Mental illnesses are everywhere, some might be very visible while others may not have distinct signs; hence, it is imperative to be aware of symptoms and to know what to look for.
Since 1990, the first week of October has been designated the Mental Illness Awareness Week and over the past two decades, various organizations have come forward to help reduce the stigma surrounding mental illnesses and spread awareness about various associated conditions.
Different Aspects of Mental Illnesses
Statistics show that millions of Americans and people around the world suffer from some type of mental illness, from anxiety disorders to full-blown schizophrenia. And, regardless of whether one is personally diagnosed or not, we are often impacted by family or friends who may be dealing with a condition.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), one in five adults in America might suffer from a mental illness each year; this accounts for nearly 48.3 million people. Among those who suffer from a mental illness, nearly one in 25 might have a condition serious enough to obstruct their everyday lives.
It is also disturbing to note that approximately 13 percent of children aged 8 to 15 might suffer from a severe mental illness during their lifetime and nearly 21.4 percent of children aged 13 to 18 may experience a similar condition.
Of the conditions seen predominantly in the U.S., NAMI has noticed a prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), phobias, depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.
Apart from these commonly discussed issues, mental illnesses also comprise a whole different segment called eating disorders. Experts believe that eating disorders like anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder can be very serious forms of mental illnesses because at least one in 10 individuals diagnosed with a type of eating disorder might face premature death either by self-infliction or a medical condition caused by the eating issues.
Even though we live in a society that has access to cures and treatments for most mental illnesses, the stigma attached to them is still very high. This often forces individuals to keep their symptoms or even diagnoses to themselves, which may only worsen the condition or slow down the recovery process.
With this in mind, NAMI has chosen “CureStigma” as their theme for the 2018 Mental Illness Awareness campaign, including the Mental Illness Awareness Week going on during the week of October 7, 2018.
This campaign, like many others, emphasizes the importance of addressing mental illnesses. While hiding a diagnosis and symptoms may only worsen the illness, talking about it to friends and family might help reduce the stress of having to deal with things alone.
If you or someone you know is dealing with a mental illness, make sure you talk to someone, find help and move toward recovery with the help of therapy, medications and support from loved ones.
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4 Reasons Why Mental Illness Awareness Week Matters More Than Ever. (2018, February 20). Retrieved from https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/blog/4-reasons-why-mental-illness-awareness-week-matters-more-ever
NAMI. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-By-the-Numbers