Mental Illness a Growing Problem; Proponents trying to break down stigma

Every year one in five adults in the United States has a mental illness, and one in six teenagers ages 6-17 has a mental disorder. Statistics show that 50% of all lifelong mental illnesses begin at age 14 and 75% at age 24.

May is National Mental Health Awareness Month, and RiverValley Behavioral Health officials are strongly committed to this issue.

Its goal is to raise awareness of people with mental and behavioral health problems and to reduce the stigma of mental illness.

RVBH is the Regional Community Mental Health Center designated by the Commonwealth. They offer a variety of mental health services, including outpatient therapy, case management, substance abuse counseling, and residential services.

“Statistics show that nearly one in five Americans lives with a mental illness,” said Dr. Wanda Figueroa-Peralta, President and CEO of RVBH. “RiverValley’s employees and board of directors are committed to building mental health awareness and serving individuals and families in the seven counties we serve. As a community, we can help start the mental health conversation and let others know that they are not alone. “

There are also ripple effects from mental illness. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness:

  • People with depression are 40% more likely to develop cardiovascular and metabolic diseases than the general population. People with severe mental illness are almost twice as likely to develop these conditions.
  • 18.4% of US adults with mental illness also had a substance use disorder in 2019.
  • Students with significant symptoms of depression are more than twice as likely to drop out as their peers
  • Students aged 6 to 17 with mental, emotional, or behavioral concerns are three times more likely to repeat a class.

The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that only half of people with mental illness are treated. Access to treatment remains challenging for many families due to stigma, economic factors, stress, transportation and the lack of trained clinicians.

Mental health advocates also want to make sure people know that suicide is the second leading killer of people ages 10 to 34 in the United States. The suicide rate has increased 35% since 1999 and is the 10th leading cause of death in the country.

According to statistics from the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 46% of people who die from suicide have a diagnosed mental health condition and 90% have symptoms of a mental health condition.

“Talking to our friends and loved ones about mental health is a great way to reduce stigma,” said Figueroa-Peralta. “We want to encourage people to seek help when they need it. There’s no shame in reaching for something. “

To access RVBH services, contact 270-689-6879 or 1-800-769-4920 for the TDD hearing impaired. If you are in a crisis with a non-medical emergency, call the Crisis Line at 1-800-433-7291 or send a text message.

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