May is National Mental Health Awareness Month, which means organizations all over the country are working to raise awareness about the disorders that affect millions of Americans.
As the White House noted in its official proclamation about the month, “For many, getting help starts with a conversation. … Shame and stigma too often leave people feeling like there is no place to turn. We need to make sure they know that asking for help is not a sign of weakness — it is a sign of strength.”
To kick off the month, here are four facts you might not know about mental health in the United States:
+ Millions of Americans Experience Mental Illness
One in four adults experiences mental illness in a given year. To put that in perspective, this means approximately 61.5 million Americans experience some form of mental illness during that twelve month period. So the next time you feel like you’re alone in dealing with your illness, remember that you’re not even close to being the only one.
+ We Lose Billions Of Dollars Due To Mental Illness
Serious mental illness costs America $193.2 billion in lost earnings per year. Loss of earnings, here, refers to the loss of monetary income due to a person’s mental illness. That means that many of the 61.5 million Americans mentioned in the first fact left their jobs and salaries because of their mental illness.
+ 20% Of Teens Experience Mental Illness
If you think mental illness is only a problem for adults, think again. Approximately 20% of youth ages 13 to 18 experience severe mental disorders in a given year. If you are struggling with a disorder, please reach out to someone you trust to find the help you deserve.
+ Fast Food vs. Mental Health Research
Sad but true: We spend over 300 times more on fast food every year than we invest in children’s mental health research. Between 2008 and 2011, Americans spent “some $330 billion on fast food.” During that same period, the National Institutes of Health “devoted less than 1/300th of that sum to children’s mental health research.” This research is crucial to effectively diagnosing and treating conditions “such as ADHD and Autism in children.” Take Speak Up for Kids’ quiz to find out more facts about children’s mental health.
If you are dealing with a mental illness, please know that you are not alone. Organizations like the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) and Half Of Us have resources to help you find the help you need.