May is Mental Health Month: Will you help decrease stigma?

Millions of Americans face the reality of living with a mental health condition, which is challenging enough. Add to that the stigma associated with mental illness, and it can cause people to avoid help and treatment. May is Mental Health Awareness Month, so it’s a great time to talk about it and help put an end to the stigma about mental health issues.

How many people really are dealing with a mental illness?

Generally, 1 in 5 adults have a diagnosable mental illness. That makes mental illness more common than cancer, diabetes, or even heart disease, and yet we hear much more about those diseases than we do about mental health. That’s why this month is so important. About half of the adults in the U.S. will develop a mental illness at some point in their lives. Mental illness is normal in our society. It’s also normal to live a life of recovery.

How do you know if someone needs help? What should we look for?

Symptoms for children and adults can vary, but they can include changes in behavior, feeling sad or depressed for a long time, drug or alcohol abuse, changes in eating or sleeping habits, suicidal thoughts, and excessive anger, hostility, or violence. Mental health conditions often appear for the first time during adolescence, but it can happen at any time in a person’s life.

What are the things that increase a person’s risk for developing a mental illness?

Like other health conditions, your risk is higher if a sibling or parent has a mental illness. Other risk factors include brain damage because of an injury, traumatic experiences, using illegal drugs, being abused or neglected as a child, and even another chronic medical condition, such as cancer.

If you need help, or you know someone who needs help, where do you start to get that help?

If a person is having suicidal thoughts, please call the Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. Otherwise, you can talk to your doctor, and you can call the Idaho CareLine by dialing 211 and our agents will help you find resources.

Does treatment help?

Treatment can help most people significantly reduce their symptoms and improve their quality of life. People can and do recover all the time, but first they need to feel comfortable seeking treatment.

(Note: A Closer Look at Your Health airs at 6:50 a.m. most Tuesdays. This is an edited transcript from the segment from May 14, 2019.)

Resources:

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