What You Should Know About Mental Illness

Mental illness is not a joke.  It’s not a punchline. It is a serious, sometimes fatal, illness that affects millions of Americans. 1 in 5 adults will experience a mental health issue this year. 26% of the homeless and 20% of the incarcerated are suffering from mental illness. In spite of this, only 41% of the mentally ill receive treatment. One big factor is the stigma attached to mental illness, so please, think twice before you make it a joke.

I can’t believe I have to say this, but mental illness is not contagious. Being around someone with bipolar disorder or schizophrenia will not make you sick. You can touch them and hug them and be their friend. It won’t hurt, I promise.

In spite of what the media would have you believe, mentally ill people are not prone to violence. According to the National Alliance for Mental Illness, they are far more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators of it. So while you may think that guy who shot up the school “can’t be right in the head,” its more accurate to say he “can’t be right in the soul,” because it is highly likely his mental status was perfectly fine.

Mental illness is treatable. Though we lack understanding of the mechanisms that cause it, some effective treatments have been found. Therapy is quite useful, as are a variety of medications. It is possible to find a combination of the two that allow you to lead a stable, productive life.

Lack of treatment can have serious consequences. It costs America $193.2 billion in lost wages every year. Mentally ill students have the highest drop out rate. Mood disorders, like bipolar and major depressive disorder, are the third highest cause of hospitalization. Most troubling is that suicide is the 10th leading cause of death, 3rd for those age 10-24.

In light of this, everyone should know the warning signs of mental illness:

Excessive worrying or fear
Feeling excessively sad or low
Confused thinking or problems concentrating or learning
Extreme mood changes
Prolonged or strong feelings of irritability or anger
Avoiding friends or social activities
Difficulties understanding or relating to other people
Changes in sleeping habits or feeling tired or low energy
Changes in eating habits
Changes in sex drive
Difficulty perceiving reality, hallucinations or delusions
Inability to perceive changes in one’s own feelings, behaviour or personality
Substance abuse
Multiple physical ailments without obvious cause
Thinking about suicide
Inability to carry out daily activities or handle daily stress

If you or someone you love is experiencing more than one of these symptoms, please seek help. There are treatments available. It isn’t a death sentence to find out you have a mental illness. Help is available.

Information from www.nami.org

Originally posted 2015-10-23 10:48:20.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *