Enjoyed writing a 40,000 flyover about mental health for this month’s mental health awareness. See below for a preview or read the full post here. Thanks to Missouri Partners in Prevention for the opportunity to continue to write with you!
Year after year, the culture improves in awareness, advocacy, and accessibility of mental health knowledge and services. In that same breath, we also acknowledge that great strides are needed. Concerns related to insurance, availability of providers, and a lack of health equity mean we have much work to do. Despite these challenges, we wanted to take some time to provide some broad-stroke information about mental health that will remind us all how important this month of awareness is and how we can be a part of the solution.
General Mental Health Information
- Mental health is a broad term that refers to a person’s psychological, social, and emotional well-being.
- Mental health is affected by our genetics and life experiences (nature + nurture).
- Just like everyone has a degree of physical health, everyone has a degree of mental health.
- “Mental wellness” refers to feeling generally positive about one’s self and circumstances paired with the ability to cope with daily activities and challenges. Mental wellness is also sometimes referred to as an active process of pursuing “mental fitness.”
- In contrast, “mental illnesses” are disorders of mood, thinking, and/or behavior that require criteria for diagnosis via the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).
- It is important to note that while everyone occasionally feels sad, angry, grieves, and has mood changes, what often distinguishes temporary adjustment difficulties from a mental disorder is the intensity, duration, and interference with one’s ability to cope/function.
Mental Health Statistics
It is hard to offer confident mental health statistics. The reasons for this are many. Mental health care is still, in some ways, a developing field with a complicated history. Many mental health disorders used to be criminalized or used as grounds for removing people from society. And, while brain mapping, chemical studies, and blood samples can tell us some things about a person’s mental health experience, much of what we know still comes down to someone’s described experience.
For this reason, as much as mental health disorders are physical health experiences that can improve with therapy and/or medication, it is harder to point to a test number or result as a guide for treatment. Scientists are working hard to find more concrete ways to understand mental health disorders, so providers have increased ways to be more accurate and effective with treatment and medication. And, of course, many people who are suffering don’t (or can’t) seek treatment. All of this means that it’s just not as easy to say how many people have a mental health disorder as it is to pinpoint a number for a physical illness.
With these parameters in mind, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) cites that 1 out of every 5 people, or 20% of the population experiences a mental illness. Other organizations offer numbers closer to 1 out of every 4 or 25% of the population. Some other commonly cited statistics are:
- The symptoms of many mental health disorders often first appear in someone’s late teens or early 20s although they can occur outside of this range. It is important to remember that experiences such as trauma can bring on mental challenges at any age.
- People can have co-occurring disorders (i.e., depression and anxiety) that require support for both concerns.
- Depression and anxiety are the most commonly experienced mental health disorders.
- Suicide is often connected to the mental health diagnosis of depression and/or substance abuse disorder. Men are more likely to die by suicide while women are more likely to attempt it. The discrepancy is typically associated with the difference in the lethality of the method.
- We have barely scratched the surface. There are hundreds of classified forms of mental disorders in the DSM-5.
What Part Can We Play in Mental Health Care?
To finish the full post link here…