By Joe Carter
In 2013, President Obama proclaimed May as National Mental Health Awareness Month, a time set aside to bring the issue of mental health to the attention of the American public. Here are nine things you should know about issues related to mental health:
1. Nearly 1-in-5 Americans over age 18 will experience a diagnosable mental health disorder in a given year, and nearly half (46.4 percent) will experience a mental health disorder in their lifetime. For some people, suffering with a mental illness can take over a large part of their lives, to the point where looking into something like Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) would be the next step, if their health makes them unable to work for a living. There are always people out there willing to help, especially when it comes to mental health.
2. Approximately 70 percent of Americans experience physical and non-physical symptoms of stress, but only 37 percent think they are doing very well at managing stress
3. There are a wide variety of anxiety disorders, including post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and specific phobias, etc. Collectively they are among the most common mental disorders experienced by Americans, affecting 18.1 of the U.S. adult population. 22.8 percent of these cases (4.1 percent of the population) are considered severe. The average age of onset for anxiety disorders is 11 years old.
4. Women are 60 percent more likely than men to experience an anxiety disorder. Non-Hispanic blacks are 20 percent less likely, and Hispanic men are 30 percent less likely, than non-Hispanic whites to experience an anxiety disorder during their lifetime.
5. Neuropsychiatric disorders are the leading cause of disability in the U.S., followed by cardiovascular and circulatory diseases and neoplasms. The neuropsychiatric disorders category includes mental and behavioral disorders, which account for 13.6 percent of total U.S. DALYs; and neurological disorders, which account for 5.1 percent of total U.S. DALYs. (DALYs represent the total number of years lost to illness, disability, or premature death within a given population.)
6. Approximately 3.5 million people in the U.S. are diagnosed with schizophrenia, one of the leading causes of disability. Three-quarters of persons with schizophrenia develop the illness between the ages of 16 and 25. Studies have indicated that 25 percent of those having schizophrenia recover completely, 50 percent are improved over a 10-year period, and 25 percent do not improve over time. Treatment and other economic costs due to schizophrenia are estimated between $32.5 and $65 billion annually.
7. Throughout the world, more than 800,000 people die by suicide every year—around one person every 40 seconds. Currently, only 28 countries are known to have national suicide prevention strategies.
8. Most Protestant senior pastors (66 percent) seldom speak to their congregation about mental illness, according to a study by LifeWay Research. That includes almost half (49 percent) who rarely (39 percent) or never (10 percent), speak about mental illness. About 1 in 6 pastors (16 percent) speak about mental illness once a year. And about quarter of pastors (22 percent) are reluctant to help those who suffer from acute mental illness because it takes too much time.
9. When researchers asked those with mental illness about their experience in church 10 percent said they’ve changed churches because of how a particular church responded to their mental illness. Another 13 percent either stopped attending church (8 percent) or could not find a church (5 percent). More than a third, 37 percent, answered, “don’t know,” when asked how their church’s reaction to their illness affected them. Over half, 53 percent, say their church has been supportive while about thirteen percent say their church was not supportive.