In 1990, the U.S. Congress established the first full week of October as National Mental Illness Awareness Week. Here we are 22 years later and it’s still not acceptable to call into work as a sick day due to depression or other mental illness. What happens if you tell your employer that you suffer from mental illness? If you’re like me, you will lose your job. Wait, that’s illegal! Not if you work for a small company. Check the fine print before you accept a job offer.
Some statistics for you to chew on…
Anxiety: 18% of the adult U.S. population, 23% of these cases are considered severe. Women are 60% more likely to suffer from anxiety than men during their lifetime. (This includes Agoraphobia, GAD, OCD, Panic Disorder, PTSD, Social and other phobias)
Bipolar: 2.6% of the adult U.S. population, nearly 83% of them are considered severe cases.
Major Depressive Disorder: At any given time, this affects about 7% of the population, but when looking at lifetime prevalence, this increases to 16.5%. Women are 70% more likely to suffer depression than men, and when looking at age groups, young and middle aged adults are most likely to be sufferers as compared to those over the age of 60.
Borderline Personality Disorder: 1.6% of the U.S. adult population.
Schizophrenia: 1.1% of the U.S. adult population.
I have selected to give you statistics for only a few of the major mental health issues. Many more statistics can be found on the NIMH (National Institute of Mental Health) website: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/statistics/index.shtml
While these numbers may seem small, these illnesses affect millions of people. Millions of individuals with families, jobs, and responsibilities that can be difficult, if not impossible, to keep up with while suffering from an illness. For some people, illnesses are comorbid (occurring together) but this doesn’t make the numbers less formidable. For example, anxiety and depression often go together, which makes coping extremely difficult.
Although Mental Illness Awareness week is at a close, I hope you will keep in mind some of these statistics. For those of you who are sufferers, you are not alone. For those of you who are friends or family of someone with a mental health disorder, we appreciate you more than you’ll ever know. For those of you who are neither… please join us in the battle against stigma. Together we can make the world a kinder place.
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