MIAW: Basic Mental Health Facts

B&W photo of a dude looking out a window; on right, a white text box with blue text "NIAW" and under this is white text "Basic Mental Health Facts" and at bottom is a white text box with blue text "Chronic Sex"

This week is Mental Illness Awareness Week. Today, I wanted to focus on sharing mental health facts.

While 26% American adults live with a mental illness, one in twenty-five has a serious mental illness. A serious mental illness is one that “results in serious functional impairment, which substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities.” This includes conditions like Schizophrenia, Post-Traumatic Stress (PTSD), and Bipolar Depression.

Just under 20% of American adults live with an anxiety disorder, PTSD, or phobias. This is the most common category of mental illness and can be especially common for people with complex medical histories.

Depression and anxiety are common in people living with other chronic illnesses or disabilities. This can lead to more severe symptoms in both mental and physical illnesses. Depression can also lead to higher risks of heart attack and stroke. Risk factors for both mental and non-mental chronic illness include Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), poverty, isolation, lack of social interaction/support, racism, lack of access to fresh food and healthcare, and more.

Around 70% of adults with mental illness also have a non-mental chronic illness. Living with both lead to a 4x chance that you’ll die early.

Many patients with mental health issues have their medical issues taken less seriously. Sometimes this is more an issue of not having great access to care or insurance. Silos that separate mental care from medical care also add to the problem.

Having a mental illness makes you about twice as likely to be a victim of a violent crime than a perp.

In 2008, mental illness was found to be the third largest contributor to homelessness. Nearly half of all homeless people have a mental illness, and 25% have a serious mental illness.

Seventy-five percent of mental illnesses start by the time you’re in your mid-twenties.

Over half of adults who have substance use disorder also have an underlying mental health issue.

People with multiple marginalizations (i.e., people of color, women, people living in poverty, etc) are less likely to receive a concrete diagnosis or treatment. With that said, around 20% of white and black adults have a mental illness. 16% of Latinx adults, 14% of Asian adults, and nearly 30% of Native Americans or Alaskan natives struggle as well.

People within the LGBTQQIA2+ community are more than twice as likely to have a mental illness. They are 2-3 times more likely to attempt suicide in their youth. They’re also more likely to experience discrimination when seeking healthcare, especially for mental illnesses.

Some of the many barriers encountered when seeking a diagnosis or care include:

  • Access, including lack of insurance coverage for mental health
  • Timing (i.e., Can you see a provider outside of work hours?)
  • Poverty
  • Transportation
  • Quality of care
  • Stigma
  • Racism
  • Homomisia, Transmisia, Cisheterosexism, and additional discrimination
  • Language barriers

Facts from NAMI, Mental Health By The NumbersMulticultural Facts, NIAMH, CDC, SAMHSA.

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