Every year, millions of Americans face the reality of living with at least one mental illness. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), nearly 1 in 5 (52.9 million in 2020) adults in the United States have a mental illness.
Collaborating and having productive conversations to provide more and better mental health services to Americans is a necessity, which is why every year May is designated as Mental Health Awareness Month.
This year’s theme is “Together for Mental Health.”
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), “Together, we can realize our shared vision of a nation where anyone affected by mental illness can get the appropriate support and quality of care to live healthy, fulfilling lives.”
One of the parameters of the County Health Rankings is mental health providers to the population. In the 2022 rankings:
- Pennsylvania – One mental health provider to 420 people
- Cambria County – One mental health provider to 460 people (278 mental health providers)
- Somerset County – One mental health provider to 900 people (81 mental health providers)
Consistent care for patients with a mental illness is pertinent, but sometimes that just isn’t possible. In fact, in 2020, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) reported:
- 7 million patients experienced delays or cancellations in appointments
- 3 million patients experienced delays in getting prescriptions
- 9 million patients were unable to access needed care
NAMI reports that 11 years is the average delay between the first mental health symptom and treatment.
Oftentimes, mental illness causes a “ripple effect” and more health problems. According to NAMI:
- People with depression have a 40% higher risk of cardiovascular and metabolic diseases
- In 2020, 32.1% of American adults with mental illness also experienced a substance use disorder
- S. adults with mental illness have higher rates of unemployment at 6.4% compared to those who do not at 5.1%
- High school students with significant depression are more than twice as likely to drop out
- Students aged 6-17 who have mental, emotional, or behavioral concerns are 3x more likely to repeat a grade
During Mental Health Awareness Month, Americans need to mirror this year’s theme and truly come together to provide support and education to the public and advocate for policies that support people with mental illness as well as their families.