Mental Health Awareness Month
May is Mental Health Awareness month. Beginning in the United States in 1949, the Mental Health America (MHA) organization wanted to educate the public, raise awareness, and reduce the stigma associated with mental health conditions. This year mental health awareness is more important than ever. MHA explains, “The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on the mental health of people of all ages. Now, more than ever, it is critical to reduce the stigma around mental health struggles, because that stigma often prevents individuals from seeking help.”
Did you know one in five adults in the US have a mental illness? That is approximately 51.5 million adults as of 2019. Unfortunately, 46% of children will experience a mental illness at some point in their lives. At the other end of the age spectrum, older adults with mental health issues will almost double from 12% to 22% between 2015 and 2050. This increase is due to the aging population growing significantly.
What is Mental Health?
Mental Health refers to psychological, emotional, and social well-being. It affects how we feel, think, react to stressors, the choices we make, and how we relate to other people. There are two comprehensive classifications of mental illness: Any Mental Illness (AMI) and Serious Mental Illness (SMI). The degree of severity can range from mild to severe with SMI being a smaller more severe subset of AMI.
Mental health conditions encompass a wide variety of illnesses such as: Addiction, ADHD, Alzheimer’s, Anxiety, Bipolar, Body Dysmorphic Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, Co-Dependency, Depression, Eating Disorders, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Panic Disorders, Paranoia, Phobias, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Schizoaffective Disorder, Seasonal Affective Disorder, Self-Injury, Social Anxiety Disorder, Stress, and Suicide. *This list does not include every condition.
Mental Health Symptoms, Signs, & Risk Factors
There are so many different mental health conditions, and each has its own unique set of signs, symptoms, and risk factors. Below is a general list of possible things to consider.
Symptoms & Signs:
- Extreme change in mood, behavior, or personality
- Feeling sad and withdrawn for more than a couple weeks
- Sleep disturbances
- Racing heart or difficulty breathing
- Significant weight loss or weight gain
- Stomach distress
- Difficulty making basic decisions
- Disinterest in hobbies and socialization
- Extreme fatigue
- Out of control risk taking behavior
- Sudden uncontrollable feeling of fear
- Difficulty staying still or concentrating
- Seeing or hearing things that are not real, hallucinations, delusions
- Family history of depression
- Prior episodes of depression
- Medical illness such as chronic health conditions associated with disability or deterioration
- Mental impairment or dementia
- A stressful life event
- Alcohol or prescription medication misuse or abuse
- Side effects of medication
- Overall feelings of poor health, disability, or chronic pain
- Progressive sensory loss (i.e. deteriorating eye sight or hearing loss)
- History of repeatedly falling
If you or someone you know is dealing with any of these common mental health conditions get help immediately. Help yourself and others by ending the stigma and encourage treatment. Early diagnosis is essential for optimal management and yes, all these conditions are manageable with therapy, medication, and alternative treatment.