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Mental Health Month 2015: Mental Illness and Addiction

Mental Health Month 2015

Mental Health MonthDuring the month of May, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and the rest of the country celebrate Mental Health Month, bringing awareness to the important issue of mental health. Mental Health Month is an important time of year for fighting stigma, educating the public, providing support, and advocating for equal care for those struggling with mental illness. According to NAMI, 1 in every 5 American adults experience a mental illness of some sort, and approximately 13.6 million American adults live with a serious mental illness. Mental illness affects countless American individuals and families on a daily basis and it is important that we remain educated and informed about mental health issues.

This year’s theme for Mental Health Month is B4Stage4 — focusing on how people can address their mental health issues early on, rather than at an advanced stage when the symptoms are more severe. Mental illness refers to a wide range of mental health conditions or disorders that affect your mood, thinking, and behavior. There are many mental illnesses including schizophrenia, depression, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, and addictive behaviors. The signs and symptoms vary depending on the mental illness, but some of the common ones include (but are not limited to): extreme mood swings, changes in appetite, weight loss or gain, feeling sad or down, isolation and withdrawal, inability to cope with daily problems, substance abuse, suicidal thinking, changes in sex drive, low energy, detachment from reality, and trouble sleeping. Sometimes symptoms of a mental health disorder manifest as physical maladies such as headaches, stomach pain, and other unexpected aches and pains.

Statistics by diagnosis:

  • Approximately 2.4 million Americans are diagnosed with schizophrenia
  • Roughly 16 million American adults struggle with major depression
  • About 42 million American adults live with an anxiety disorder
  • Approximately 6.1 million American adults struggle with bipolar disorder

There is a significant correlation between mental health disorders and substance abuse. One of the most common connections between mental illness and addiction is that many people struggling with mental illness use substances to self-medicate and alleviate their mental health symptoms. Unfortunately, using drugs and alcohol only worsens the severity of mental health symptoms and creates a whole new batch of problems due to the substance abuse.

If you or someone you know is struggling with a mental health problem, help is available. If you are concerned about a loved one, have an open and honest conversation about the various signs and symptoms that you are worried about. The best way to help someone struggling with mental illness or a substance abuse problem is to offer support and encouragement. If your loved one is struggling with self-harm or suicidal thoughts, it is important that you call for emergency assistance. Fortunately, help is available and recovery from a mental illness is indeed possible.

National Mental Health Month is a significant event in the United States. It is essential that America recognizes the importance of mental health disorders and how to help those who may be struggling. If you are interested in finding out more about Mental Health Month, check out this website.


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