Mental Illness: What You Need to Know

Mental illness is a serious issue that can be unacknowledged yet it affects the United States greatly. The more informed we are about the issue, the more efficiently we can help those who suffer from it.

According to National Alliance on Mental Illness, mental illness can affect a person’s feeling or mood which can impair their lifestyle. Every individual’s experiences will vary depending on environment, genetics, and the lifestyle of the individual.

The Huffington Post shared statistics stating that about 61,500,000 American’s experience a mental disorder, which is about one in four adults. About 800,000 people die of suicide globally, and 79 percent of the suicides in the United States are by men. Based on a completed by college students, 30 percent of these students had feelings of being depressed to where it negatively affected their daily functioning.

Anxiety disorders affect about 40,000,000 adults, schizophrenia affects 3,500,000 adults, and bipolar disorder affects 6,100,000 people, all in the United States alone. In 2012, 60 percent of those people did not receive treatment. The cost for those untreated is $100,000,000,000 to the U.S. economy due to unemployment, substance abuse, and unnecessary disability, among others. However, 70-90 percent of individuals who did some sort of treatment saw improvement in their symptoms and quality of life.

Every hour, seven people commit suicide in the Americas. Before the age of 18, 11 percent of adolescents develop a depressive disorder.

People with mental illnesses have faced stigmas, stereotypes and prejudice, many of which are far from the truth. According to the Scattergood Foundation, some of the stereotypes that are attached to those with mental illnesses include being dangerous and unpredictable, incompetent, deserving the blame for their condition, and the general feeling of hopelessness in their recovery.

In reality, people with mental illnesses are hardly dangerous. Only three percent of people with a mental illness are violent, meaning that 97 percent are nonviolent. People such as Abraham Lincoln and Winston Churchill demonstrated that mental illness was not a barrier for their proficiency. Research also shows that life experience, trauma, and biology are to blame for mental illness, not just the individual. Finally, people who receive the treatment needed are likely to improve their lives greatly. Some do not obtain treatment because they believe in such stereotypes.

However, the stigma seems to be shifting in the United States for the better. CNN reported that a national online survey indicated that 90 percent of Americans value mental and physical health equally. Another survey revealed that people ages 18-24 are becoming comfortable with talking about and seeking medical help, this can also make them see this as a sign of strength compared to the older generations.

Student Emilee Haman is an English major with is minoring in Psychology. Haman showed great concern and knowledge about the subject when interviewed about mental illness.

What are your thoughts on mental illness? “Mental illness is something that plagues young adults throughout the country and it is kind of a ‘taboo’ subject, which makes it even harder to deal with. I definitely think it's something that should be addressed more and I believe that reducing the stigma will help people know that they're not alone and that it's okay to ask for help.”

What do you think of the stereotypes and stigmas they give to people with mental illnesses? “I think that people with mental illnesses are most often viewed as “crazy” or “unstable” due to the stigma that surrounds the topic of mental illness. Mental illness is not something people are open to talking about, which leads a lot of people to think that if they have a mental illness, they should be ashamed and not ever talk to anyone about it because they are afraid of being labeled as something that they are not.”

Do you think mental and physical illnesses have equal value? “I fully believe that mental illness should be viewed the same as physical illness. People do not go around telling sick people to get over it or that it is all made up and in their head. The fact is that mental illnesses are in the brain, and a sick brain filled with illness is no different than a sinus infection or a broken leg. It's not just an excuse like people seem to think it is.”

Do you think that there is enough information about mental illness being taught? “Due to the fact that there is such a stigma mental illness isn't discussed, and people don't have enough information about it. There are very few people who are brave enough to be honest and open and talk to people truthfully about the reality that is mental illness. Most people do not realize that mental illness is more common than they think, and a lot of people have experienced a mental illness or knows someone who has. A majority of people are in the dark about mental illness because they were not provided information about it.”

Any other comments or thoughts? “People suffering from mental illnesses should not be afraid to ask for help. Talking about our problems and trying to find a solution should not be seen as a negative thing. There is no need to be ashamed.”

Overall, mental illness is a serious issue that everyone should receive more information on and be well aware of. If you or someone you know is suffering from mental illness, do not hesitate to get the proper treatment you need. Don’t be afraid to speak up, YOU Matter.

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