Mental Illness Awareness Week was this month. Inspired by the efforts put forward by NAMI and others to inform and encourage the community about mental health, we created a few videos.
Sometimes a statistic can be easily forgotten. And the weight of a number misunderstood. Without a heartbeat, data often lacks a pulse.
When you hear that 300 million people in the world suffer from depression, it’s so overwhelming that it can be hard to digest. But if you stop to think about it for a moment, it becomes clear that such a large number suggests it’s nearly impossible that you don’t know someone affected by it.
It may even be you.
It’s that perspective that allows us to bring the numbers home and give them a deeper meaning.
For example, one in five adults in the US lives with a mental illness, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. If you have four friends, one of you is struggling with an illness. Sadly, it’s often a silent suffering and a hidden illness.
But such an important statistic implies that it is past time we start talking about it. If you are suffering, you are not alone.
Take the words of Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland, Director-General of the World Health Organization, to heart: “Mental illness is not a personal failure. In fact, if there is failure, it is to be found in the way we have responded to people with mental and brain disorders.”
Finally, it’s devastating to learn that suicide is the second leading cause of death among people ages 15-29.
You probably don’t need to stop and think about this stat to have it sink in. It stops you. But how many of us were aware of it?
Mental illness is a massive threat to the health and lives of young people, but most of the world still knows little about it, particularly its warning signs and symptoms. That would explain how even though half of all mental illness begins by age 14, most cases go undetected and untreated.
Not only do we as a society need to pause and ponder these statistics and realize that it’s us, our families, friends, and neighbors who are affected. But we also need to talk about them with each other.
It’s okay to be vulnerable.
It’s okay to not be okay.
You’re not alone.
And there is support for you.
The first step to prevent the tragedies in the world that result from mental illness is to be aware. So let’s talk.