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Talking about mental health

Lindsey Formes, Staff Writer

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Nearly everybody is affected by mental illness at some point in their lives, whether it be something with which they deal personally or something with which someone they know struggles. Mental illness inserts itself into the daily lives of millions.  However, there are plenty of people still uncertain about what it is exactly and how prevalent it is.

“Mental illness” is an umbrella term that covers several things. There are countless types of mental illnesses, including anxiety, depression, OCD, schizophrenia, dementia, ADHD/ADD, PTSD, various eating disorders, alcohol and substance abuse/dependence, and bipolar disorders.  The unfortunate part is that isn’t even close to all of them. While these are all very different in their own right, they each add a certain level of difficulty to someone’s daily life. They are often crippling to the sufferer.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Health, or NAMA, “approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. experiences mental illness in a given year.” That averages out to 18.5% of all U.S. adults. That may not sound like a whole lot, but that is 43.8 million people that deal with the struggle of a mental illness on a personal level.

Those statistics don’t even cover the amount of adolescents who have a mental illness. According to NAMA, “just over half (50.6%) of children aged 8-15 received mental health services in the previous year,” and “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%.”

“Shame and blame seem to be what most people believe about mental illness. Education and awareness are the only ways to combat that. If we take the time to do those two things, the dignity of every person suffering with mental illness will increase tenfold. Take the time to listen and learn. Be the change, not the constant,” Mrs. Joanne Waters, Social Worker and co-adviser for Active Minds, said.

Mental illness is an incredibly relevant topic. As a society, we need to gain a better understanding of what it is and how we can better serve those who suffer from it and having accurate information about mental illness is the first step to helping sufferers.

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Massapequa High School's chief source of news.
Talking about mental health