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May is Mental Health Awareness Month

When we think about cancer, heart disease, or diabetes, we don’t wait years to treat them. We start before Stage 4—we begin with prevention. When people are in the first stage of those diseases and are beginning to show signs or symptoms like a persistent cough, high blood pressure, or high blood sugar, we try immediately to reverse these symptoms. We don’t ignore them. In fact, we develop a plan of action to reverse and sometimes stop the progression of the disease. So why don’t we do the same for individuals who are dealing with potentially serious mental illness?

  • One in five Americans will have a diagnosable mental health condition in any given year1
  • Fifty percent of Americans will meet the criteria for a diagnosable mental health condition sometime in their life, and half of those people will develop conditions by age fourteen2

Catching mental health conditions early is known as Early Identification and Intervention. However, many times people may not realize that their symptoms are being caused by a mental health condition or feel ashamed to pursue help because of the stigma associated with mental illness.  It’s up to all of us to know the signs and take action so that mental illnesses can be caught early and treated, and we can live up to our full potential. Even though mental illnesses may require intensive, long-term treatment and a lot of hard work at the later stages, people can and do recover and reclaim their lives.

Information obtained from Mental Health America.

1Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Be- havioral Health Statistics and Quality. (September 4, 2014). The NSDUH Report: Substance Use and Mental Health Estimates from the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Overview of Findings. Rockville, MD.

2 Ronald C. Kessler et al., Lifetime Prevalence and Age-of-Onset Distributions of DSM-IV Disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication, 62 Arch. Gen. Psychiatry 593, 595 (2005).