Awareness is a decisive factor in tackling the issues of mental health. It can play a pivotal role in removing stigma and discrimination. It can also help individuals suffering from such disorders, as well as those close to them identify the signs and symptoms, and seek professional help at the earliest.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), approximately 18.5 percent of the total adult population in the U.S. experiences mental illness in a given year, corresponding to one in five adults. It also states that 21.4 percent of the adolescents aged 13-18 experiences a severe mental disorder at some stage in their lives. Unfortunately, only around half of them receive mental health services. This could be due to the fact that many do not recognize the symptoms and those who do, may not know what to do with it.
Need for awareness about risks
A study conducted by the Michigan State University and published in April 27, 2017, finds lack of awareness about mental health conditions and drug abuse among Americans. The researchers focused on four major issues: anxiety, depression, alcohol abuse and prescription drug abuse. The study involved nearly 4,600 participants and the findings indicated that nearly a third of them, or 32 percent of the respondents, were unable to identify signs of prescription drug abuse.
Due to the lack of knowledge, the participants were taking more doses than prescribed, experienced mood swings and sleep disturbances, and indulged in doctor shopping (habit of visiting multiple doctors to acquire prescription medication). The researchers found the figures more disturbing among adults aged 18-34 years (47 percent). They study also revealed that only less than half of the participants could recognize anxiety.
An earlier research published by the BMC Psychiatry, an open access, peer reviewed journal, analyzed 22 published studies on perceived barriers or facilitators in adolescents or young adults. It found that stigma and embarrassment, difficulty in recognizing the symptoms, and self-reliance tendencies were the most crucial barriers to seeking professional help, factors that are closely related to lack of awareness.
A Mental Health and Suicide Survey conducted on behalf of the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) in August 2015, involving 2,020 adults, stated that emerging adults see more value of mental health care, though accessing it remains a challenge for many. A majority of collegegoers (60 percent) feels positive about seeing a mental health professional but a vast majority (90 percent) does not understand the risks associated with mental disorders. The report says, “Only 52 percent recognize anxiety disorders as a risk factor for suicide.”
Lack of awareness delays treatment
Michigan researchers opine that though a lot of development has been made in the field of mental health literacy and care, “the discrepancies in mental health knowledge, helping behaviors and stigma show the importance of continuing to educate the public about mental health issues.” Lack of awareness inevitably leads to delayed treatment and worsening of the condition. There is a need to address behavioral health challenges, educate people about mental health and create a more compassionate environment for the affected individuals.
If you or someone you love is in need of mental health care services, contact the Florida Mental Health Helpline. Call our 24/7 helpline (866) 846-5588 or chat online to get information about some of the finest depression rehab centers in Arizona or the best mental health counselor in Florida.