Mental health and mental illness are spiraling out of control as millions of Americans are affected by conditions related to their mental well-being. The World Health Organization stated, “There is no health without mental health.” It is an important aspect of life which impacts people psychologically, socially, and physically throughout childhood, adolescence, and adulthood.
At every stage of life, how an individual thinks, feels, makes decisions, handles stress, and relates to others falls under the umbrella of one’s mental health status. An element for consideration was presented in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. In a study, it was noted teens had an increase of at least 70 percent in emotional problems, which suggested monitoring behavior during adolescence may generate important information.
The term mental illness is often confused with the term mental health. Mental illness refers to a collection of diagnosed health conditions or mental disorders characterized by changes in behavior, mood, thinking, or a combination, which is associated with impaired functioning and/or distress. Life experiences, family history, biological factors, and genetics play a role. Mental health is defined as a state of well-being in which individuals use their abilities to cope with the stresses of life, work productively, and make a contribution to the community.
The following statistics were documented by the National Alliance on Mental Illness:
- Approximately one in five youth between the ages of 13 -18 experience a severe mental disorder.
- Approximately one in five adults in the United States experience some form of mental illness and one in 25 have a condition that seriously interferes or limits one or more major life activity.
Further, in the U.S., the data for adults identified schizophrenia affected 1.1 percent, bipolar disorder was common among 2.6 percent, 6.9 percent or 16 million experienced a major depression episode over the past year, and 18 percent reported having an anxiety disorder such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, or a specific phobia.
As mental health and mental illness are spiraling out of control, people are placed at risk and lack of attention can lead to serious consequences. There may be a relationship of chronic medical conditions due to a specific mental assessment. Young children experience mental health concerns, but less than 20 percent of children who have been diagnosed receive treatment. Additionally, it was estimated 38 percent of diagnosed adults seek treatment.
Suicide has been the tenth leading cause of deaths in the U. S. It ranks third for people between the ages of 10 to 24, and also leads as the second cause of death for ages 15 to 24. Special education students age 14 to 21 are among the highest group of dropouts due to problems in this area. The third most common cause of hospitalizations in the U.S. for people 18 to 44 has been the results of mood disorders such as depression and bipolar disorder. Approximately 18 to 22 veterans commit suicide every day. Just as important, it was estimated depression was the culprit of 200 million missed work days and the total cost in lost earnings per year was cited at $193.2 billion.
Early warning signs may include thinking of harming self, having low or no energy, experiencing severe mood swings, an inability to perform daily tasks, feeling unusually confused or forgetful, edgy, hearing voices, sleeping or eating too much or too little, isolating oneself from people, and smoking, using drugs, or drinking more than usual.
With positive mental health, people can work productively, cope effectively with stressors of life, realize their full potential, and make meaningful contributions to the community. Family and friends could be a valuable influence to ensure someone receives treatment and needed services. Some ways to maintain positive mental health are:
- Develop coping skills
- Get plenty of sleep
- Engage in physical activities on a frequent basis
- Stay connected to others
- Establish a healthy identity
- Use social support such as the family or one’s spiritual connections
- Work to build self-confidence
- Be courageous to seek professional assistance
By Marie A. Wakefield
U. S. National Library of Medicine Medline Plus – Mental Health
Mental Health.gov – Mental Health Problems Affect Everyone
Center for Disease Control – Mental Health Basics
National Alliance on Mental Illness – Mental Health by the Numbers
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