Mental Health vs. Mental Illness: What do you know?

In recognition of Mental Illness Awareness Week, here are some eye-opening statistics from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI):

• 1 in 5 adults in America experiences a mental illness.
• One-half of all chronic mental illness begins by the age of 14; three-quarters by age 24.
• 1 in 100 (2.4 million) American adults live with schizophrenia.
• 2.6% (6.1 million) American adults live with bipolar disorder.
• 6.9% (16 million) American adults live with major depression.
• 18.1% (42 million) American adults live with anxiety disorders.
• 26% of homeless adults staying in shelters live with serious mental illness.
• 24% of state prisoners have a recent history of a mental health condition.

mental health researchWhat is “Mental Health”?
Mental health is about how we think, feel, and behave; our cognitive, behavioral, and emotional well-being. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), mental health is “…a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.” Mental health problems, disorders, and illnesses, therefore, interfere with the ability to achieve the condition of mental health.

Types and Affects of Mental Illness
The most common types of mental illness include anxiety disorders such as panic disorder, phobias, OCD, ADHD, and PTSD; mood disorders like depression and bipolar; eating disorders; and schizophrenia. Mental illnesses can contribute to difficulties with personal relationships and the ability to hold a job. According to the American Journal of Psychiatry and U.S. Surgeon General’s Report, 1999, serious mental illness costs Americans $193.2 billion in lost earnings every year.

Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide. It can, in extreme cases, lead to the threat of self harm. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S., and 90 percent of those who die by suicide have an underlying mental illness. Additionally, people with mental health disorders may be at a much higher risk of heart disease or stroke. This could be for reasons from behaviors adopted to help cope with the mental illness such as smoking or drinking alcohol; some psychiatric medications that can trigger weight gain or lead to diabetes or high cholesterol; or simply that the individuals don’t talk about their symptoms and therefore do not get help.

The Research
More and more research is focusing on the links between genetics, diet, other physical illness or conditions, and mental illnesses. For example, there are explanations for a link between gut problems such as irritable bowel syndrome and other gastric irritations to depression and other mood disorders. Other studies indicate that optimal levels of additional vitamins and minerals (found in foods or used as supplements) including omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, selenium, vitamin D, B vitamins, and zinc can reduce depression symptoms.

For all of these reasons and more, research is critical to improving the prevention, treatment, and eventual cure of mental illness. Meridien Research is conducting several research studies at our locations. For more information or to see if you or someone you know may qualify to participate, please contact us today at 1-888-777-8839.