A Health Crisis? The Prevalence of Mental Illness

Approximately ten percent of the world has been diagnosed with a mental health disorder. In the United States alone, an estimated twenty percent of adult Americans suffer from a mental illness. Of that twenty percent, only fifty percent of them seek help in managing their disorder. 

Unfortunately, there is a stigma attached to mental illness. Stigma is a negative stereotype that is attached to individuals with a unique trait or specific characteristic that is perceived as a disadvantage. Stigma is attached to individuals with mental illness because the subject is taboo, meaning nobody wants to talk about it. Because nobody is talking about, people are left with their assumptions. We can break the stigma associated with mental illness by informing ourselves and others about the related conditions. 

Mental illness takes the form of many disorders. Anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder are common disorders that fall under the category of mental illness. At some point, each of us understands the feelings of anxiety and depression. These feelings are not alien to most of us, there should be no stigma attached to them. 

Mental Health Statistics

Take a look at the infographic below. Mental illness affects all of us. Whether we are directly affected by the illness or know someone that suffers from one of these conditions, we all know about mental illness. Do not be ashamed, or fear popular opinion because, to be honest, popular opinion is not very popular.

Let’s make us the generation to drop the stigma of mental illness. This stigma prevents those afflicted with mental illness from seeking therapy. Untreated disorders, such as bipolar disorder, depression, and schizophrenia, increase the likelihood that an individual will abuse alcohol or drugs. These substances are often used to self-medicate and alleviate uncomfortable negative emotions. Untreated mental illness is also a contributor to suicide.

The Statistics

These statistics show us that mental illness is a health crisis worthy of our attention. Its effects are far-reaching and spread much farther than the lives of the individual affected. Whether you have a mental health condition, or not, you likely know someone that does. That is why it is so vital that we educate ourselves on the topic of mental illness. It is the only way we can truly understand what our loved ones are experiencing. 

Final Thoughts

Fear of judgement is the number one barrier of people seeking treatment for their mental illness. Sometimes this fear causes them to avoid treatment altogether. Untreated mental illness contributes to homelessness, incarceration, substance abuse, and suicide. As a society, we must eliminate the ignorance of mental illness and remove unnecessary barriers to treatment. Mental illness is no different from a physical ailment and should be treated equally. In 2020, let’s refuse to allow people to suffer in silence.

Published by alswartz

I am an aspiring novelist working on my first book. I have an interest in mental health and each of my works is related to mental health in some way.

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