Do Mental Health Statistics Matter?

It seems we are constantly being bombarded with sensational mental health statistics, each source offering one more shocking statistic than the next.  With hopes of eliciting a reaction, many seem impossible to believe, their sole point only to provoke fear. Unfortunately, in the case of mental illness the numbers likely don’t exaggerate.  A few of the most recent stats presented by NAMI National are:

  • Approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S.-43.8 million, or 18.5%-experiences mental illness in a given year.
  • 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%.
  • 9% of adults in the U.S.-16 million—had at least one major depressive episode in the past year.
  • 1% of adults in the U.S. -experienced an anxiety disorder such as posttraumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and specific phobias.
  • Among the 20.2 million adults in the U.S. who experienced a substance use disorder, 50.5%—10.2 million adults—had a co-occurring mental illness.

Sadly, the tremendous reported numbers only highlight that there are real and noteworthy mental health challenges among us.  A majority of us came to this important cause through firsthand knowledge.  Most often it is a journey that begins after a mental health crisis has hit your home. Whether it is individual or walking beside a loved one, mental illness will force one into revealing things that no one truly wants to examine within himself or herself.  In my own time as a mental health advocate, I have observed one thing to be true and that is that people do not arbitrarily just learn about mental illness for educations sake.  Personal pain and despair is often the primary catalyst for any new growth and change.

One important thing statistics encourage is a new reality that the struggle is real.  It potentially can exist in 1 in 5 of us.  That fact alone is shocking, not just the numbers themselves, rather that anyone could not believe that a mental health awareness initiative is timely and necessary.  NAMI Arapahoe/Douglas Counties is more committed than ever to building awareness and reducing stigma within our communities.  Through our education, support and outreach we are able to help make these transitional times more palatable. NAMI trained volunteers teach every class, lead every support group and will gently guide you through each step of the journey.

Don’t give in to the statistics.  Perhaps you or a loved one falls into one or more of the reported categories.  That isn’t what matters.  What’s important is where you go from here.  There is support available for you.  NAMI Arapahoe/Douglas Counties understands where you are and we will gladly show up to help you find the road ahead.  We welcome YOU.  Join US!

Do Mental Health Statistics Matter?