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National Mental Illness Awareness Week (Oct 5-11, 2014)


Next week begins the 24th anniversary of having Congress recognize and establish a National Mental Illness Awareness Week. It starts Monday October 5th and continues until October 11th. As a therapist, I have the opportunity to meet many different types of clients, some with physical illness, some with mental illness, and often these two overlap. There is still such a long ways to go with decreasing the stigma around mental illness. There are wonderful organizations doing great work to empower those who suffer to share their stories, in order for others to truly understand what mental illness is about. If you haven’t already, check out these three: National Alliance on Mental Illness, Bring Change to Mind, and StrengthofUs. 
  
One of the best ways to decrease the stigma around mental illness is to know the facts and educate yourself and others. I was shocked to know that 1 in 4 American adults have a mental illness as well as 1 in 5 American kids. That number is astounding, and yet how many people actually talk about their experience openly? I am truly lucky to get to walk along so many of those managing their illness, and I encourage anyone reading this who is struggling to reach out for help. You are not alone. And now I’ll let the statistics speak for themselves: (courtesy of NAMI)


One in four adults−approximately 61.5 million Americans−experiences mental illness in a given year.
Approximately 20 percent of youth ages 13 to 18 experience severe mental disorders in a given year. For ages 8 to 15, the estimate is 13 percent.
Approximately 6.7 percent of American adults−about 14.8 million people−live with major depression.
Approximately 18.1 percent of American adults−about 42 million people−live with anxiety disorders, such as panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), generalized anxiety disorder and phobias.
About 9.2 million adults have co-occurring mental health and addiction disorders.
Approximately 26 percent of homeless adults staying in shelters live with serious mental illness and an estimated 46 percent live with severe mental illness and/or substance use disorders.
Approximately 60 percent of adults12, and almost one-half of youth ages 8 to 15 with a mental illness received no mental health services in the previous year.
African American and Hispanic Americans used mental health services at about one-half the rate of whites in the past year and Asian Americans at about one-third the rate.
Individuals living with serious mental illness face an increased risk of having chronic medical conditions.
Adults living with serious mental illness die on average 25 years earlier than other Americans, largely due to treatable medical conditions.
Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the U.S. (more common than homicide) and the third leading cause of death for ages 15 to 24 years.
Although military members comprise less than 1 percent of the U.S. population, veterans represent 20 percent of suicides nationally. Each day, about 22 veterans die from suicide.

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