Mental health issues have been impacting people’s lives for far longer than we’ve been talking about it. And talking about mental health more openly is an important step towards reducing some of the stigma around these issues. Here are a few facts that challenge the discrimination or disapproval that some people hold against mental health issues.
In 2020, one in five adults in the United States encountered a mental health issue. And one in six young people had a major depressive episode. With so many people dealing with similar issues, it’s hard to understand where all the stigma comes from.
People with anxiety and depression feel the effects of stigma. In fact, it prevents 40% of people with these conditions from seeking medical help. And for some people, stigma can actually make their symptoms worse, potentially leading to feelings of hopelessness, lower self esteem, and issues in work and relationships. Stigma can come from external sources, like friends, family, coworkers and even strangers. But it can also come from the very person dealing with those mental health issues. The more self-stigma a person with a mental illness has, the less likely they are to recover. By working to reduce that stigma, we can help promote healing.
Actually, people with serious mental illness are responsible for only 3% to 5% of violent acts. But they’re far more likely to be victims of violence. Those numbers might seem lower than you would expect, but you’re not alone if you think that. Statistics indicate that over a third of people think that people dealing with mental illness are more likely to be violent. There’s certainly some stigma at play here. The more we talk about the real facts, the more we can do to break down those assumptions.
Most people with mental health issues can be productive in society, working and contributing to their communities. And problems with mental health are never that person’s fault. Factors like biology, genetics, brain chemistry, and other illnesses can impact mental health. Life experiences or trauma and abuse can have an impact. Sometimes it’s just family history. But in any case, people can’t “just snap out of it.” Most mental health issues can be overcome. But a lot of the time, it takes professional help.
When studies find that an estimated 14.3% of deaths around the world each year relate to a mental health disorder, it’s clear that something is wrong. Suicide is the second leading cause of death in people between 10 and 34. With a death rate like that, mental health clearly impacts more than just the mind.
These issues aren’t anyone’s fault. And there is a way forward by talking through the issues both in our society and with a healthcare professional. If you or someone you care about are struggling with mental health issues, there are plenty of affordable resources out there. Get in touch with a CHP clinic to make an appointment and find out what services are available to help in your community.