America’s Mental Health — and Yours

It wasn’t so long ago that mental health was a mystery to most people — even the experts. Before breakthroughs in our understanding of brain chemistry, brain health, psychology, and psychiatry, we didn’t know much about what was “wrong” with people who had mental health problems (if, indeed, anything could be said to be “wrong” at all). The quality of mental health care was shameful, and awareness of mental health issues was incredibly low.

Many improvements still can be made, of course, but we have come a long way. With a more modern understanding of mental health, we’re able to identify what we know and have a healthy respect for what we don’t. We have better treatment options, a better understanding of how mental health issues can fit into the daily lives of (perfectly sane) individuals, and a better grasp on just how common mental health issues actually are.

And they are common indeed.

Many Americans struggle with mental health issues

Nearly one out of every five Americans will deal with a mental illness in a given year. That includes about the roughly 4 percent of adults who suffer from a serious mental illness, which means that their mental illness significantly disrupts their day-to-day life. But it also includes plenty of people who may well be suffering in silence. Some Americans may suffer from mental illness and not even know it — or, at least, not know what to call it or realize that it qualifies as a diagnosable disorder.

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health issues in America. More than 18 percent of Americans suffer from some type of anxiety disorder. Nearly 7 percent of Americans adults deals with clinical depression, some Americans even deal with both. And other types of mental health disorders and combinations thereof round out the statistics.

Your mental health: You are not alone

As we learn more about mental health, we’re learning just how common these sorts of issues are — and just how inadequate mental health solutions have been in the past. If you’re suffering from any kind of mental health issue, it’s extremely important for you to get help from a professional.

The same is true of parents who think that their children may be suffering from mental health issues. The adolescent and teenage years are tough, but don’t let your assumptions mask serious symptoms, the experts at Polaris Teen Treatment Center caution. If your child seems withdrawn or appears to have lost interest in things that once gave them pleasure, that could be depression. If your child seems overwhelmed by tasks that you consider relatively simple, that could be anxiety. And if you’re at all suspicious of anything about your child’s behavior, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

You are not alone. The more we learn about mental health, the more we discover huge groups of people who suffer from mental health issues. It’s common, even normal, to have depression or anxiety — but it’s not healthy, and it merits real treatment from a trained professional.

So take action. Help yourself. Call a crisis hotline or set up an appointment with a psychologist or psychiatrist. If you feel it would help, check yourself into an inpatient mental health program — or even just into your local hospital — and focus on yourself for a while. Or work with a mental health professional to plan out a future trip to a mental health center. The bottom line is this: you deserve professional help, and it will make a difference in your mental health.