When people hear the term healthy, they usually focus on physical connotations, such as low cholesterol levels, good cardiovascular strength and the absence of disease. Unfortunately, countless people suffer from mental health problems that are just as debilitating as some of the worst physical ailments. With professional help from mental health services, most of these people enjoy improved life quality. For many, however, help never comes, because they either fail to seek it or lack appropriate access.
How Common is Mental Illness?
According to the National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI), approximately one in five Americans experiences some type of mental illness each year. What’s more, about 10 percent experience serious mental illness that significantly interferes with one or more major life activities.
From schizophrenia to bipolar disorder, there are a number of serious mental health disorders that can make day-to-day living almost impossible. At the same time, countless Americans also live with addiction, depression and anxiety disorder. In fact, the NAMI estimates that, each year, over 18 percent of the U.S. population experiences obsessive-compulsive disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder or specific phobias. NAMI statistics also reveal that over 20 million Americans have a substance use disorder, with over half of these people also experiencing co-occurring mental illness.
Consequences of Lack of Treatment
Mental health issues can make life unbearable for the people who have them. At the same time, these problems can have a wider effect on society as a whole, especially when they go untreated or treatment is delayed. The following statistics from NAMI shed light on this fact:
- Serious mental illness costs the U.S about $193.2 billion in lost earnings per year.
- Mood disorders, such as depression and bipolar disorder, are the third most common reason for hospitalization for patients between the ages of 18 and 44.
- American adults living with mental illness die an average of 25 years sooner than others, largely due to treatable conditions.
- 37 percent of students suffering from a mental health condition drop out of high school.
- More than 90% of children who die by suicide suffer from a mental health condition.
When allowed to intervene in a timely manner, mental health services can help lower health costs and free up limited resources. Studies indicate that people use medical services 90 percent less frequently after receiving appropriate mental health care. Mental health services also reduce the risk of chronic diseases related to stress, anxiety and substance abuse.
Most importantly, mental health services save lives, while improving the outlook for people who may feel hopeless and lost. If you believe you may be suffering from a mental illness or if you know someone who is, take positive steps toward recovery by contacting a mental health professional today.