To highlight the importance of mental health to overall wellness, inform and educate people, May has been observed as Mental Health Awareness Month in the United States for 65 years. In the UK, the public recognition is also significant and across the world mental health is starting to receive more and more attention.
According to data by the World Health Organization (WHO), depression is estimated to affect 350 million people globally, with about 1 in 20 people on average reporting having a depression episode in the previous year. British charity Mental Health Foundation announced the results from their survey, which show that levels of anxiety in the UK are rapidly rising. Approximately three-fifths of the British adults admit they experience anxiety on a daily basis, while nearly one in five people feels anxious a lot or all the time. In the US, about 13.6 million people suffer from a serious mental illness such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or deep depression, says the National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI). Nearly 20 percent of American teenagers suffer from a severe mental disorder. And worldwide, one child in 160 has an autism spectrum disorder, according to the WHO.
The statistics can go forever, but one is certain – mental illnesses and disorders are a significant contributor to the global burden of disease and affect adults and children in all communities around the world. Tens of organizations, government institutions and charities are working to raise awareness on the issues of mental health, aid prevention of mental and emotional disorders, promote mental and overall health and provide better access to healthcare and proper treatment. However, unlike most physical injuries and sicknesses, mental disorders are often hard to identify and treat. Many patients are misdiagnosed, while some have never even entered a healthcare facility. There is modern, effective treatment for almost all mental illnesses, but many patients wait too long before they search for help. Often, this takes years, leading to serious disruptions of patients’ lives – inability to cope with daily activities, inability to take proper care of themselves, alienation, poor quality of life, poverty, illnesses, and so on.
According to NAMI, half of all chronic mental illnesses and disorders start by the age of 14 and 75 percent have shown symptoms by age 24. This means that doctors, patients, parents and institutions should concentrate on preventing mental issues in children, advocacy and advancement of mental health awareness, especially during Mental Health Awareness Month 2014.