Approximately 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness, and 1 in 20 adults experience a serious mental illness according to the National Mental Health Alliance. Mental illness is surprisingly common and can often go undiagnosed and untreated.
Suicide and “deaths of despair” are the second leading cause of death among individuals aged 10-34.
Mental health struggles can contribute to other physical risk factors, like hypertension and physical pain. For example, people with depression have a 40% higher risk of developing cardiovascular and other diseases compared with the general population.
Disadvantaged individuals have difficulty accessing mental health services. 70% of youth in the juvenile justice system have a diagnosable mental health condition, and many adult inmates also suffer from disproportionate mental health conditions. Homelessness, joblessness, and school drop-out rates are higher for those experiencing mental health conditions.
Many people do not get the treatment they need and deserve to heal and cope. Therapy can be expensive without insurance, and stigma often prevents people from seeking help. Those who need help the most do not always have easy access to services. Instead of punishing those who need help, we should be supporting them.
What if we treated therapy and mental health services as though they were a normal part of life? Mental health conditions are also sometimes reflected in literal physical differences in the brain. You would not punish or become angry or impatient with a person who cannot walk or run with a broken leg, so why would we as a society punish and stigmatize those who are neurodiverse?
It’s important to manage expectations when it comes to the abilities of neurodiverse people. We should not expect all people to be able to behave in the same ways, just as we should not expect a person with a broken leg to run. In the social services, it’s important to advocate for destigmatizing mental health conditions and destigmatizing therapeutic services. This helps us to cultivate a healthier and more just society which, in turn, supports healthy and strong families.
May is #MentalHealthAwarenessMonth. Do you or a loved one feel you may need some support? NPP offers free family therapy to East Hawaii residents. Call (808)965-5550 or apply on our website to receive the support you need today.
If you or a loved one are in immediate crisis, please contact the crisis helpline or suicide helplines:
Need support? Text HOME to 741741 for free, 24/7 crisis counseling.
Hawaii Mental Health 24/7 Crisis Lines:
Islands of Kauai, Lanai, Molokai, Maui, & Hawaii 1-800-753-6879
Island of Oahu (808) 832-3100
Call 1-800-SUICIDE / 1-800-784-2433
Call 1-800-273-TALK / 1-800-273-8255
Call 2-1-1 or go to 211.org/
Mental Health & Stigma https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/why-we-worry/201308/mental-health-stigma
*neurodiverse is a term referring to those who are not “normative” in terms of brain function, but this does not necessarily mean there is anything wrong with them. This term acknowledges that no two minds are alike, and not all differences are negative.