Did you know one in four adults experiences mental illness in a given year? That’s about 62 million Americans. About 13.6 million live with a serious mental illness such as schizophrenia, major depression or bipolar disorder. 1
Those numbers are staggering; however the real staggering fact is, despite the number of people living with a mental illness, there is still a stigma behind having a mental illness which keeps people from getting treatment. C.S. Lewis wrote, “Mental pain is less dramatic than physical pain, but it is more common and also more hard to bear.” The best way to get rid of a stigma behind a subject is to educate yourself and others about the topic. Currently, only one in three people with a mental illness receives treatment. Why is this? Partially because people are afraid they will be treated differently if they are labeled as mentally ill. Those with mental illnesses can suffer from low self-esteem, as the train of thought is if no one finds them “normal,” then they are probably not normal. Of course, those who have a normal physical illness do not have people viewing them as not normal at all.
What is mental health?
Mental health is our emotional, psychological, and social health. It determines how people feel, think, and even how we act. It’s a medical condition that disrupts a person’s thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to others and daily functioning. It can affect how we make choices, feel, and perceive the world around us.
Many factors contribute to mental health problems, including:
- Biological factors, such as genes or brain chemistry
- Life experiences, such as trauma or abuse
- Family history of mental health problems
Mental health problems are common but help is available. People with mental health problems can get better and many recover completely.
What can I do to help?
- Learn about the signs of mental health problems.
- Express your concern and support of someone with mental illness.
- Reassure that you care. No one should have to deal with mental illness alone. Know where to turn in your community if you or a loved one has to deal with a mental illness.
It’s important that we educate ourselves on mental health to disrupt misinformation and unfair discrimination about an illness that affects so many. CHAS believes that the best health and quality of life are achieved by caring for the whole person – mind, body, mouth. That’s why our clinics integrate medical care with behavioral/mental health and dental care. Our caring professionals work as a team to deliver the right care for the each individual.
Resources for learning about and dealing with mental health issues:
Mental Health First Aid: http://www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org/
First call for help: http://fbhwa.org/programs/crisis-response/first-call-for-help/
1 National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Mental Health. (n.d.). Statistics: Any Disorder Among Adults. Retrieved March 5, 2013, from
by Matt Grebe, Communications Specialist