If you have a mental health condition, you’re not alone and there’s no reason to feel embarrassed. If the American health system treated mental illness with the same intensity and openness as physical health conditions diagnosis and treatment for more citizens might be far more successful. One in five American adults experiences some form of mental illness in any given year. And across the population, one in every 25 adults is living with a serious mental health condition such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or long-term recurring major depression.
As with other serious illnesses, mental illness is not your fault or that of the people around you, but widespread misunderstandings about mental illness remain. Many people don’t seek treatment or remain unaware that their symptoms could be connected to a mental health condition. People may expect a person with serious mental illness to look visibly different from others, and they may tell someone who doesn’t “look ill” to “get over it” through willpower. These misperceptions add to the challenges of living with a mental health condition.
That’s why during May, and throughout the year, mental health conditions and treatment need to be talked about in the open. For too long in this nation, people with mental illness were marginalized and even institutionalized against their will.
When you, a friend or family member develops a mental health condition, it’s important to know thatyou’re not alone. There are many programs and experts at CMH that can steer individuals with mental illness conditions to the support and help they need. Mental health professionals have effective treatments for most conditions, yet in any given year, only 60% of people with a mental illness get mental health care — according to the National Alliance of Mental Illness.
As a result, family members and caregivers often play a large role in helping and supporting them. Millions of people have experienced the thoughts and questions you might be having now.
Mental health condition aren’t your fault or your family’s fault — they develop for complicated reasons that researchers are only starting to understand. But experts at CMH understand a lot about how you can live well with a mental health condition — and remind area residents that you have the power to take the steps necessary to improve your mental health.
Mental health services and supports are available and the earlier you access them the better. You are not alone.
Stigma is toxic to the conversation about mental health because it creates an environment of shame, fear and silence that prevents many people from seeking help and treatment. And in some cases, it takes lives.
People experiencing mental health conditions often face rejection, bullying and discrimination. This can make their journey to recovery longer and more difficult. Mental health conditions are the leading cause of disability across the United States.
The perception of mental illness won’t change unless we act to change it, and among other objectives is why CMH embraces the month of May to dispel myths and bring the conversation of mental health out of the shadows so more people understand it to know they’re not alone.