Mental health education time

By From page B3 | October 10, 2012

Mental illness touches almost every family in Yolo County in one way or another. Maybe you have a relative or friend who suffers from severe depression. Maybe you have an anxiety disorder.

About one in four Americans will experience a mental health disorder in any given year. That is more than 57.7 million people.

They can range from mild to severe disorders. The economic costs to the country, mainly due to lost productivity, is about $79 billion annually.

We are in the middle of National Mental Illness Awareness Week, an effort to de-stigmatize mental illness and raise awareness that mental illness is on par with physical illness and there is no shame in seeking treatment

The week was started in 1990 and is observed every year. Mental Illness Awareness Week awareness efforts are vital. Indeed, people who have serious mental illness die 25 years earlier than the rest of the population. Less than a third of adults and less than half of children with diagnosed mental illness receive treatment.

Many do not get help for fear of stigma associated with mental illness. Mental Illness Awareness Week is a good time to remind people that disorders are common and that treatment can work.

It is also an opportune time to remind decision-making bodies that mental illness needs to be on complete parity with physical illness and that resources used to help the mentally ill and others are not “fiscal waste”!

Of course, this work needs to be done not only during Mental Illness Awareness Week, but all throughout the year.

Bob Schelen
Chairman, Local Mental Health Board, Davis

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