Millions of Americans every day face the reality of living with a mental illness, and national Mental Health Awareness Month each May raises awareness of those living with mental or behavioral health issues and helps reduce the unfortunate stigma so many experience.
Mental illness is a condition that affects a person’s thinking, feeling or mood. Such conditions may affect someone’s ability to relate to others and function each day. Each person will have different experiences, even people with the identical diagnosis.
Mental illness deeply impacts day-to-day living and may also affect the ability to relate to others. If you have — or think you might have — a mental illness, the first thing you must know is that you are not alone. Sadly mental health conditions are far more common than many of us think, mainly because people don’t like to, or are scared to, talk about them.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 1 in 5 U.S. adults experience mental illness each year, and 1 in 20 U.S. adults annually experience serious mental illness. In addition, 1 in 6 U.S. youth aged 6-17 experience a mental health disorder each year, and 50% of all lifetime mental illness begins by age 14, and 75% by age 24.
The most common mental illnesses in the U.S. include anxiety disorders, major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and eating disorders.
There are a variety of catalysts for mental illness such as genetics, environment and lifestyle that influence whether someone develops a mental health condition. A stressful job or home life makes some people more susceptible, as do traumatic life events. Biochemical processes and circuits and basic brain structure may play a role, too.
A possible contributing factor in the nation’s rise in mental illness could be the increasing use of social media. Online interaction has taken precedence over face-to-face communication, which promotes isolation and loneliness. Physical appearance is also heavily stressed on social media and other online platforms. Growing trends on apps like Instagram and TikTok influence users to look and dress a certain way.
General comparisons and unrealistic expectations of physical appearances often affect users, particularly females, which can contribute to depression, anxiety and eating disorders. Those who are frequently online are also more likely to experience cyber-bullying, which is linked to depression and suicidal behaviors. Considering the constant changes and trends introduced on online social platforms, it’s no wonder why the number of adults between the ages of 18 and 25 who experienced psychological distress increased between 2008 and 2017.
There is no fault assigned with mental illness, and for many people, recovery — including meaningful roles in social life, school and work — is possible, especially when you start treatment early and play a strong role in your own recovery process.
Sandra Eskenazi Mental Health Center, Indiana’s first community mental health organization, provides comprehensive care for all types of emotional and behavioral problems, including severe mental illness and substance abuse. It offers both inpatient and outpatient services in multiple locations throughout Indianapolis and often integrates treatment into a patient’s primary care treatment plan.
The primary mission of Sandra Eskenazi Mental Health Center is to serve individuals with serious mental illness and chronic addiction and seriously emotionally disturbed children and their families. Patients of all ages are welcomed, from children to seniors, with a philosophy of care that stresses strength-based and family-and community-centered treatment utilizing the Recovery Model of treatment.
Utilizing best practices resulting from ongoing research and medical advancements, care decisions are team-based and emphasize family and client participation. All clients are treated with dignity, confidentiality and respect.
For more information or to request an appointment with the Sandra Eskenazi Mental Health Center, visit: https://www.eskenazihealth.edu/mental-health
By Nydia Nunez-Estrada, family medicine specialist with Eskenazi Health Center North Arlington