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Mental illness facts need to be known

Posted: May 27, 2014 - 4:53pm  |  Updated: May 27, 2014 - 4:54pm

A month-long emphasis on mental
health and wellness draws to a close this week - the 65th annual national observance of a month focusing on mental illness, its diagnosis, treatment, healing and outreach to the families and friends touched by it.

Mental Health America is the national sponsor, but its professional and/or organizational affiliates in every state participate, bringing a message of honesty, optimism and candor to the issue and its consequences.

Perceptions about mental illness, thankfully, have changed dramatically through the decades, thanks to mental health departments, not-for-profit advocacy organizations and the successful treatment stories shared by patients.

Most people understand there is no shame in mental illness, but there is a challenge to seek treatment to get well.

The facts of mental illness in the United States are startling and need to be fully known:

— Nearly one in every five Americans age 18 and older will have a diagnosable mental health disorder in a given year, and 46.4 percent will experience a mental health disorder in the course of a lifetime.

— Stress, heavy drinking of alcoholic beverages and common health risks like obesity all contribute to mental disorders, as does a general lack of regular exercise.

Mississippi fortunately has a relatively low rate of mental illness compared to other states, but rates for some kinds of substance abuse have risen dramatically, including illicit drug use among the population 26 and older, federal reports have shown.

Despite the low reported federal statistics, the Mississippi Department of Mental Health reported in 2013: “Ask your friend or neighbor if they have been touched by substance abuse or mental illness in any way and the answer is almost always - ‘yes.’” Substance abuse and mental health issues are serious public health problems in Mississippi. In 2012, an estimated 199,000 Mississippians needed treatment services for alcohol and drug use and more than 165,000 people for a mental health issue.”

The issue can best be measured in the stark human toll, and the needs created.

— Northeast Mississippi Journal,
Tupelo, Mississippi,

May 27

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