With a New Year almost upon us, now is generally the time we turn our minds to New Year Resolutions. Top of the list for most of us is losing weight – but there is another topic that is literally on the top of many people’s minds and that is their mental health. So perhaps this year, you can put getting assistance with your mental health on the top of your resolutions list.
According to Mental Health America, it is estimated that around 1 in 5 American adults (that’s nearly 44 million people) and 13-20% of children living in the United States will experience a diagnosable mental health disorder in a given year. That reminds us both how prevalent it is and how temporary these disorders can be – which should give us some comfort that there is indeed a way out.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness adds to those numbers:
- Approximately 1 in 25 adults in the U.S.—9.8 million, or 4.0%—experiences a serious mental illness in a given year that substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities.
- Approximately 1 in 5 youth aged 13–18 (21.4%) experiences a severe mental disorder at some point during their life. For children aged 8–15, the estimate is 13%.
This means exactly what you think it means. That if you or a loved one are dealing with a mental health issue or mental illness, you are not alone! There are many people in the U.S. dealing with these issues which is why reaching out for help should be (and can be) easy.
Which leads us to the question: what happens if you DON’T get treatment. The numbers should sober you up.
- Serious mental illness costs America $193.2 billion in lost earnings per year.
- Mood disorders, including major depression, dysthymic disorder, and bipolar disorder, are the third most common cause of hospitalization in the U.S. for both youth and adults aged 18–44.
- Individuals living with serious mental illness face an increased risk of having chronic medical conditions. Adults in the U.S. living with serious mental illness die on average 25 years earlier than others, largely due to treatable medical conditions.
- Over one-third (37%) of students with a mental health condition age 14–21 and older who are served by special education drop out—the highest dropout rate of any disability group.
- Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. and the 3rd leading cause of death for people aged 10–14 and the 2nd leading cause of death for people aged 15–24.
- More than 90% of children who die by suicide have a mental health condition.
- Each day an estimated 18-22 veterans die by suicide.
With all that in mind, how do you find help? Mental Health America has many ideas. For example:
- You can get referrals from your family doctor, clergy or local Mental Health America office (which also may provide mental health care services) and crisis centers. Consider getting a few names, so you can interview more than one person before choosing.
- Your insurance company can provide a list of providers who are in your plan.
- Eligible veterans can get care through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. For more information, go to www.va.gov/health or call 1-877-222-8387. If you already have benefits through the VA, visit http://www.va.gov/directory to find your nearest facility.
- You can find affordable mental health services through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Visit http://www.samhsa.gov/treatment or call 1-800-662-HELP (4357).
- Your local health department’s mental health division or community mental health center provides free or low-cost treatment and services on a sliding scale. These services are state-funded and are obligated to first serve individuals who meet “priority population criteria” as defined by the state Mental Health Department.
- Your company’s employee assistance program (EAP) can issue a referral to a provider. Reach out to your Human Resources office to get more information about your company’s EAP.
- Medicare offers a list of participating doctors on its website, http://www.medicare.gov. (Click on “Find doctors & other health professionals”).
- Providers who accept Medicaid may be listed by your state Medicaid office, which you can find by clicking on the name of your state at http://www.benefits.gov/benefits/browse-by-category/category/MED.
The most important way you can get help is to ask for it. Ask your partner, your sibling, your parents, your friend, your teacher. People in your life can help and lead you to the right professional for treatment. We at Pulse wish you all a very Happy and Healthy New Year and implore you to add taking care of your mental health to the top of your New Year’s resolutions list!