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Mental Health Quick Facts

Every year, the month of May is dedicated to Mental Health Awareness. This is a time for all of us to educate ourselves about mental health, share our stories, spread awareness, acceptance and hope. Although mental health disorders are quite common, there is still stigma and shame associated with a mental health diagnosis. This makes it important to normalize talking about mental health in day to day life.

Since Mental Health Awareness Month is just getting started, here are some quick facts about mental health that you can share either in conversation or on your social medias.

Most Common Mental Health Disorders

According to Inspira Health,

the three most common diagnoses are anxiety disorders, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). These three conditions make up around 30 percent of all diagnoses of mental illness in America. While they share many of the same qualities, they’re also significantly different from one another.

As someone living with all three of these conditions, I can tell you that it isn't easy when you feel like your own mind, your own feelings, are your enemy. Getting help is critical, because if you try to do it alone, coping can push you into a mental breakdown.

To learn more about these disorders, including symptoms and common treatments and coping skills, you can click the links below for more information.

It is troubling to realize that 1 in 5 people in the US has a mental illness, and those numbers have only been growing since the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Forbes,

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illnesses in the U.S. and affect over 40 million adults, or 19.1% of the population.

According to Healthline,

The NIMHTrusted Source estimates that 21 million adults, or 8.3% of all adults in the United States, had at least one episode of major depression in 2021.

According to the National Center for PTSD,

About 5 out of every 100 adults (or 5%) in the U.S. has PTSD in any given year. In 2020, about 13 million Americans had PTSD.

Realizing how many people are suffering from mental illness around us every day is an important first step towards raising awareness about mental health in America. By sharing this information about just how common mental health disorders are, we let people know that they are not alone. They don't have to suffer in silence. It is OK to speak up about mental health!

Mental Health Conditions don't have a cure - just treatments!

Although mental health conditions are quite common in our modern world, there are no cures for mental health conditions, just treatments. This makes it crucial for us to lobby our governments and our healthcare systems to invest more into mental health research, so that people don't have to live with these debilitating conditions for life!

In November 2023, the Biden-Harris Administration Announces $74.4 Million in Funding Opportunities to Improve Behavioral Health:

While these grant programs are a step in the right direction for mental health, they still fail to address curing mental health conditions in those that are already diagnosed. We need to lobby this administration for more to be done to help all of us who struggle with our mental health on a daily basis.

This shows just one reason why The Mental Health Community Needs Strong Advocates. When people come together to advocate on a large scale for change, we make our voices heard, and advance the cause of providing better mental health outcomes for people who suffer with mental health conditions, often for the course of a lifetime.

When we help to advocate for mental health research to improve mental health outcomes, we can show our support for everyone worldwide with a mental health condition. Additionally, it is important to show kindness and support for people we know personally, as having a strong sense of community can help to improve mental health outcomes as well.

What causes mental illness?

There are many factors that contribute to developing a mental illness. These can include both genetic and environmental factors. Each individual has a unique set of circumstances that brings them towards finding a diagnosis, but there are many commonalities as well.

According to Mind UK, some of the most common reasons why people develop a mental illness include the following:

  • childhood abuse, trauma, or neglect

  • social isolation or loneliness

  • experiencing discrimination and stigma, including racism

  • social disadvantage, poverty or debt

  • bereavement (losing someone close to you)

  • severe or long-term stress

  • having a long-term physical health condition

  • unemployment or losing your job

  • homelessness or poor housing

  • being a long-term carer for someone

  • drug and alcohol misuse

  • domestic violence, bullying or other abuse as an adult

  • significant trauma as an adult, such as military combat, being involved in a serious incident in which you feared for your life, or being the victim of a violent crime

  • physical causes – for example, a head injury or a neurological condition such as epilepsy can have an impact on your behaviour and mood. (It's important to rule out potential physical causes before seeking further treatment for a mental health problem).

When someone experiences a mental illness as a result of any of these life stressors, physical conditions, or genetic factors, there are many different things that play a role in whether someone develops a mental illness or not. The things that have a tendency to help prevent a mental illness even when something terrible happens to you are called Protective Factors. The more protective factors you have, the less likely for a situation to result in mental illness.

The Connect Program divides protective factors into three categories: Individual, Family and Community:

Individual Protective Factors

  • Abstinence from alcohol and other drugs

  • Help-seeking behavior

  • Friends and supportive significant others

  • Hope for the future

  • Having goals

  • Pets/Connectedness to others

  • Good problem-solving skills

  • Medical compliance and a sense of the importance of health and wellness

Family Protective Factors

  • Strong interpersonal bonds, especially with family and adults

  • Family cohesion

  • Parental presence at key times

  • Cultural and religious beliefs that discourage suicide and support self-preservation

  • Ability to cope and handle crises

Community Protective Factors

  • Reasonably safe, stable environment

  • Effective care for mental and physical health and substance use problems

  • Availability of counseling or trusted adult in the life of a youth

  • Restricted access to firearms or other lethal means

  • Opportunities to contribute/participation in school and/or the larger community

Since both family and community play important roles in determining if an individual will develop a mental health disorder, this is another critical reason to raise awareness for mental health in our society. When family and community provide strong support for individuals at risk for mental health disorders, they are less likely to develop.

Unfortunately, many of us lack this type of support in our daily lives. In early 2023, the Surgeon General of the United States announced an Epidemic of Loneliness.

According to a November 2023 article by CBC,

Last week the World Health Organization designated loneliness as a "global public health concern," appointing U.S. surgeon general Dr. Vivek Murthy to lead an international commission to tackle the problem. Research has shown that loneliness is as bad for people's health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

With people more alone than ever, is it any wonder that people are less resilient than before, and falling into mental illness at alarming rates? We are increasingly stratified in our society, people have less friends, and lack the close bonds with family that we once had in abundance. Our villages have gotten smaller. This can be a huge contributing factor towards mental health.

What can we do?

In order to improve mental health outcomes for many people worldwide, we can all work to advocate for mental health awareness, kindness towards others, and social policy change at the national level. We can ask that more research be done for mental health. We can work to reduce barriers to treatment.

During Mental Health Awareness Month 2024, we can all get involved in discussions about mental health and share what we are learning with friends, loved ones, coworkers and on social media. By being a positive voice for change, you can make a huge difference in the lives of others!

The National Alliance on Mental Illness provides the following ways to get involved and become a leader in the Mental Health movement:

  • Talk with Community Leaders

  • Reach Out to Your Community

  • Connect with Local Businesses

  • Work with Local NAMI Affiliates

By volunteering your time, making your voice heard, and advocating for the Mental Health community, you can make a difference in the lives of millions of people worldwide who struggle with mental health disorders.

If you have a mental health condition yourself

NAMI HelpLine is available M-F, 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. ET. Call 800-950-6264,

text “helpline” to 62640, or chat online. In a crisis, call or text 988 (24/7).

Additionally, there are many local crisis hotlines available as well, where you can connect with a counselor right away to talk things through, and receive referrals for local services.

You are not alone.


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