May is Mental Health Awareness Month – but what does that mean? The goal of the month is to raise awareness about mental health issues while reducing the stigma. In fact, there are several things that you should know about the prevalence of mental health in America.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, one in five Americans experiences mental illness each year.
The scope of that is 48.5 million people, or 18.5 percent of Americans.
Whether this affects you, your family member, a close friend or colleague, a conversation about the state of mental health is vital to ensuring that people have a better understanding of what mental health is, and how to feel better.
What is mental health?
To better understand mental health, we first must understand its definition, and how it can affect all aspects of a person’s life.
The medical dictionary MediLexicon defines mental health as “emotional, behavioral, and social maturity or normality; the absence of a mental or behavioral disorder; a state of psychological well-being in which one has achieved a satisfactory integration of one’s instinctual drives acceptable to both oneself and one’s social milieu; an appropriate balance of love, work, and leisure pursuits.”
Anyone who is struggling with their mental health is suffering from emotional, behavioral and/or social issues.
The World Health Organization’s constitution states the following about mental health:
“Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity,” the constitution states.
Mental Health in the News
The Swedish electronic dance music disc jockey Tim Berling, known as Avicii, was found dead on April 20 in Muscat, Oman, according to People magazine.
According to TMZ, the 28-year-old died of a self-inflicted wound using a shard of glass, resulting in his death.
The 28-year-old had retired from music in 2016 at age 26.
“Thank you for letting me fulfill so many of my dreams. I will be forever grateful to have experienced and accomplished all that I have with the help of the team around me and my beloved fans,” Berling wrote in a letter to fans.
“Thank you to all my peers in the business for building a new movement that took the world by storm, and I was lucky enough to be in the middle of it. Thank you to all my partners through the years who believed in what I have created and wanted to amplify my work to a truly global presence,” he said.
However, Berling is not the only famous singer who has suffered, and ultimately died, from mental health issues, including depression.
In July 2017, Linkin Park singer Chester Bennington was found hanging in a closet, and his death was ruled a suicide by the Los Angeles County coroner’s office.
In one of his last interviews before his death, Bennington told Will Lavin in an article published on Mirror UK:
“I came to a point in my life where I was like, ‘I can either just give up, and f****** die or I can f****** fight for what I want.’ And I chose to fight for what I wanted. I wanted to have good relationships. I wanted to love the people in my life. I wanted to enjoy my job.”
“I wanted to enjoy being a dad and having friends and just getting up in the morning. Because that was a struggle for me,” Bennington told Lavin.
Bennington was 41 when he died.
Warning signs of Mental Illness
According to the American Psychiatric Association, 50 percent of cases of mental illness begin by age 14, and three-quarters start by age 24.
Mental illness symptoms can accumulate over time, and can develop into something more severe if when warnings signs are left unrecognized and untreated.
Here are some mental illness signs to look out for, according to the American Psychiatric Association:
- Drop in functioning
- Cognitive problems
- Increased sensitivity
- Feeling emotionally disconnected
- Illogical thinking
- Unusual behavior
- Changes in sleep or appetite
- Mood changes
How can you help?
If you or someone that you know is having emotional issues or is thinking of committing suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at their toll-free number at 1-800-273-TALK (8225), 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.