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This week of October 7 is Mental Health Awareness Week. I looked up the Center for Disease Control (CDC) website on Mental Health, and here’s some interesting blurb on it:
Mental health is “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.”1 It is estimated that only about 17% of U.S adults are considered to be in a state of optimal mental health.2 There is emerging evidence that positive mental health is associated with improved health outcomes.
Mental illness is defined as “collectively all diagnosable mental disorders” or “health conditions that are characterized by alterations in thinking, mood, or behavior (or some combination thereof) associated with distress and/or impaired functioning.”2 Depression is the most common type of mental illness, affecting more than 26% of the U.S. adult population.3 It has been estimated that by the year 2020, depression will be the second leading cause of disability throughout the world, trailing only ischemic heart disease.4
Only 17% of the adults in the United States can be considered to have optimal mental health! Mental disorder and mental illness are leading causes of impaired functioning and yet all the stuff you hear about in the media is about preventing your risk of cancer or heart disease. Few are talking about lowering your risk of mental disorders or illness, let alone improving your mental health.
Being a fact checker I looked up some statistics and reading about it is eye-opening and a little depressing:
Suicides kill more Americans than automobile accidents, according to study of data from 2000-2009.
Suicide is the third leading cause of death in youth ages 15 to 24. More teenagers and young adults die from suicide than from cancer, heart disease, AIDS, birth defects, stroke, pneumonia, influenza and chronic lung disease combined.
Depression, the most common of mental illness affect 26% of the adult population and is associated with behaviors linked to chronic disease such as smoking, alcohol consumption, physical inactivity, and sleep disturbance.
According to National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), 1 out of 5 children, either currently or at some point in their life have had serious mental disorder.
Due to stigmatic attitudes and lack of understanding, people often do not take action and responsibility to improve and protect themselves. Fear of discrimination and prejudice is not completely unfounded, and many still discriminiate against themselves. While there are different levels of disorder and illness, there are few people in this world who does not know someone who suffers from less than optimal mental health. Like physical fitness, mental health is something we should consciously work on. Just as one would work on their cholesterol levels, one should work on their emotional resilience and well-being.
It’s time we talk about mental health — it is nothing to be embarrassed about!
Here’s a great infographic I found created by USC School of Social Work:
Brought to you by MSW@USC Masters in Social Work