Q: What is mental illness? How common is it? Does it affect everyone?
A: Mental illnesses are real, prevalent, do not discriminate, and the stigma can limit a person from seeking help. 35 million adults experience a moderate or severe mental disorder in any year. One in 5 adults will experience a diagnosable mental illness in any given year. About 15% of those will also experience a co-occurring substance use disorder. At some point during his or her lifetime, the average American adult has a 46% chance of developing one or more mental illness or substance abuse disorders. 29% will suffer an anxiety disorder, 25% will suffer an impulse-control disorder, 21% will suffer a mood disorder (i.e., depression), and 15% will suffer a substance abuse disorder.
Mental illnesses can affect anyone – mental illnesses can affect African Americans, Alaska Natives, Asian Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native American, Pacific Islanders, or White Americans. Mental illnesses can occur at any stage of life, from childhood to old age. No community is unaffected by mental illnesses; no school or workplace is untouched. Everyone is touched by mental illnesses, because they affect our families, our coworkers, and our neighbors.
Mental Illnesses do not Discriminate:
- U.S. Presidents: Abraham Lincoln (depression)
- World leaders: Winston Churchill (bipolar disorder)
- CEOs: Tom Johnson, CEO of CNN
- Athletes: Terry Bradshaw (anxiety and depression)
- Musicians: Ludwig van Beethoven (bipolar disorder)
- Writers: Tennessee Williams (depression)
- Artists: Vincent Van Gogh (bipolar disorder)
- Comedians: Robin Williams
- Journalists: Mike Wallace, 60 Minutes.
Most people suffering do not seek help – one in five Americans experiences a mental health disorder in any given year, but only one-third seek care. People often suffer for years. According to NIMH, people who do seek treatment typically do so after a decade or more of delays, during which time they are likely to develop additional problems. People suffering often do not seek help because of stigma and misperceptions surrounding mental disorders and their treatment.
Mental illnesses are disabling – mental illnesses and substance abuse disorders represent the top 5 causes of disability among people age 15-44 in the US and Canada (employed and unemployed populations). They are also the fifth leading cause of short-term disability and third leading cause of long-term disability for employers in the U.S. The World Health Organization estimates that mental illness accounts for 25% of all disability in the US, Canada, and Western Europe.
We hope you find these tips helpful in understanding and seeking appropriate, timely help. For more information, please contact us at www.thesolacecenter.com or by phone at (281) 778-9530.