By Alex Lama, Commissioner
(Thursday, May 11, 2023) – May is National Mental Health Awareness Month in the United States and the importance of mental health needs to be emphasized and brought to the forefront in our society, especially now that depression, anxiety, and other mental health concerns have been amplified by the COVID pandemic and current societal and economic issues. This crisis is affecting everyone including adults, teens, and children from all backgrounds and economic levels. It is up to us at the individual, family, institutional, and governmental levels to understand the magnitude of this problem and contribute to mitigating the mental health issues that are taking a toll on our communities.
The severity of this crisis cannot be ignored or casually confronted when we are seeing that:
- The second leading cause of death among people 15-24 is suicide.
- 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness yearly, and less than half receive treatment.
- 42.5 million Americans suffer from anxiety disorders.
- 20% of all teens suffer from depression before reaching adulthood.
- 55% of US counties do not have a single practicing psychiatrist.
- Almost 6 in 10 people with mental illness do not get treatment.
- More than 40,000 Americans die annually from suicide.
Source: National Alliance on Mental Health, Mental Health America, John Hopkins University, CC, National Institute of Mental Health
We need to be cognizant and recognize that mental health concerns are not particular to certain groups or people, but are prevalent among many of us – our families, friends, acquaintances, and the people we love most. It is time to seek help and offer help. These are crucial steps in helping yourself or someone experiencing mental disorders or suicidal thoughts. For help, you can call or text the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988 or chat online at their website 988lifeline.org.
Remember that you are not alone; someone is always there for you and willing to help.