Mental health affects everyone. And, more Americans than people might think have symptoms of a mental health condition – one in five or more than 48 million adults.
And, the number of adults with symptoms of a severe mental illness is 1 in 20, or just over 17 million individuals. The number of youth (ages 6 to 17) with symptoms of a mental health condition is about 16.5 percent.
All of the numbers come from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) from 2019 – a year before COVID’s impact.
These statistics, and a few more, are what NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) and its northwest Ohio affiliate hope to raise awareness about the first week of October for national Mental Illness Awareness Week.
NAMI Four County will hold walks to draw attention to mental health at 6:30 p.m. on Sunday in Wauseon, Defiance, Bryan, and Napoleon.
In Defiance, Bryan and Wauseon local NAMI members have arranged a short program and walk outside the courthouse in each community. And, in Napoleon the event will be held at the pocket park on Washington Street.
“We would like to encourage the public to join us,” said Wendy Jennings, executive director of NAMI Four County. “During Mental Illness Awareness Week, we hope to educate the public on how to eliminate the stigma (associated with mental illness) and advocate for better access to mental health care. Each year, our movement grows stronger as we shine a light on mental illness.”
Even though 20 percent of adults and 16.5 percent of youth have symptoms of a mental health condition, fewer than half of the adults (45 percent) and about half of the youth ever seek treatment. The number of persons seeking medical help increases to two-thirds for those with a severe mental illness
For some, the shame of seeking treatment for a mental health condition prevents them from doing so.
“By coming out to our kick-off event at the location closest to you, we are making a statement to reduce the stigma and encourage families to seek help for a loved one,” Jennings said. “The theme of this year’s week is ‘Together for Mental Health.’ Throughout the week, we will use our social media platforms to advocate for better care for people with serious mental illness.
“We will be raising the voices of people with serious mental illness and the need for improved crisis response and mental health care,” Jennings said.
Untreated mental illness can be deadly. An estimated 90 percent of all suicide deaths can be attributed to mental illness – many times it’s an untreated illness. Based on SAMSHA statistics, fewer than half of those who die by suicide (46) had a diagnosed mental health condition. The number jumps to 90 percent when family members and friends are asked if their loved one had shown any symptoms of a mental health condition.
The most common mental health condition are anxiety disorders, which affect about 19 percent of adults or 48 million people; major depression, 8 percent or 19 million people; post-traumatic stress disorder, 4 percent or 9 million people; and bipolar disorder, 3 percent or 7 million people.
Sarah Hankinson is the coordinated for the Wauseon event. For more information about the program or walk, contact NAMI Four County at 419-405-3651 or email Wendy Jennings at firstname.lastname@example.org or BJ Horner, NAMI’s program coordinator, at email@example.com.