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Mental Health is Health

While it may seem there is a special day for everything on our modern calendar, perhaps having a small nudge gives us an opportunity to think deeper about important topics and people that are a part of our life. World Mental Health Day is one of those days that focuses our attention on a topic that touches all our lives and gives us an opportunity to better understand our own mental health and the health of the people we care most about. Mental health is health. Millions of people are affected by mental illness each year. Across the United States, many people just like you work, create, compete, struggle, laugh, love, and inspire every day.

  • 21% of U.S. adults experienced mental illness in 2020 (52.9 million people). This represents 1 in 5 adults.
  • 5.6% of U.S. adults experienced serious mental illness in 2020 (14.2 million people). This represents 1 in 20 adults.
  • 16.5% of U.S. youth aged 6-17 experienced a mental health disorder in 2016 (7.7 million people)
  • 6.7% of U.S. adults experienced a co-occurring substance use disorder and mental illness in 2020 (17 million people)

Trying to tell the difference between what expected behaviors are and what might be the signs of a mental illness isn't always easy. There's no easy test that can let someone know if there is mental illness or if actions and thoughts might be typical behaviors of a person or the result of a physical or mental illness. Each illness has its own symptoms, but common signs of mental illness in adults and adolescents might include the following:

  • Excessive worrying or fear.
  • Feeling excessively sad or low.
  • Confused thinking or problems concentrating and learning.
  • Extreme mood changes, including uncontrollable “highs” or feelings of euphoria.
  • Prolonged or strong feelings of irritability or anger.
  • Avoiding friends and social activities.
  • Difficulties understanding or relating to other people.
  • Changes in sleeping habits or feeling tired and low energy.
  • Changes in eating habits such as increased hunger or lack of appetite.
  • Changes in sex drive.
  • Difficulty perceiving reality (delusions or hallucinations, in which a person experiences and senses things that don't exist in objective reality).
  • Inability to perceive changes in one’s own feelings, behavior or personality (“lack of insight” or anosognosia).
  • Overuse of substances like alcohol or drugs.
  • Multiple physical ailments without obvious causes (such as headaches, stomach aches, vague and ongoing “aches and pains”).
  • Thinking about suicide.
  • Inability to carry out daily activities or handle daily problems and stress.
  • An intense fear of weight gain or concern with appearance.

(Having one of the above symptoms does not necessarily mean you have a diagnosable mental health condition).

Please know you are not alone. Don’t be afraid to reach out if you or someone you know needs help. Learning all you can about mental health is an important first step. Sometimes we need an additional hand from a professional to guide us through mental and physical challenges. Identifying the need for assistance early can have a significant impact on preventing an emergent situation. Early detection requires awareness of subtle changes in thinking patterns and behaviors by the individual struggling and by the individuals that come in regular contact with the person struggling. Decreasing the stigma that results in feelings of self-judgment, inadequacy, and guilt is imperative for individuals to feel the self-worth and courage needed to seek early treatment before a situation turns into a crisis. When we cultivate a culture at home and work that is willing to discuss and seek understanding about mental health conditions, we are all more likely to reach out to a colleague, family member, or friend and genuinely ask what can be done to help. To find mental health resources, you can reach out to your health insurance, primary care doctor, bureau Employee Assistance Program (EAP), or state/county health department for more resources. Below are some links for some general mental health information to better familiarize yourself with mental health concepts and resources for you and the people you want to help. Please take five minutes to click through the information provided to refresh your awareness of what good mental health is and resources available.


About Mental Health

Help for Mental Illnesses