Mental Health Awareness Month

This year’s Mental Health Awareness Month campaign, #4Mind4Body, intends to remind us that when we’re talking about health, we need to talk about whole person health, because every aspect of well-being—physical, mental, social, spiritual, and emotional—matters, and every aspect is interconnected. Taking care of your mental health also means taking care of your physical health, and vice versa.

Let’s start May by learning the facts about mental health.

Broad Prevalence

Mental health conditions are some of the most common health concerns in the nation, and some of the costliest. When mental health conditions affect tens of millions of people each year, we are all affected.

  • 1 in 5 adults experience a mental health disorder in a given year—43.8 million in the US.
  • More than 1 million Americans died in the last 10 years from alcohol, drugs, and suicide. That’s one person gone, every four minutes, in 2015 alone.
  • In 2016 there were more than twice as many suicides as there were homicides—44,965 deaths by suicide versus 19,362 murders.
  • Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide.


Youth and Mental Health:

Mental health affects adults and youth alike, however, untreated mental health conditions as a youth, can lead to more serious consequence later in adulthood, as symptoms and conditions are left unattended.

  • Youth experience mental health conditions at roughly the same rate as adults: 1 in 5.
  • 50% of all lifetime cases of mental health disorders appear by age 14, and 75% appear by the age of 24.
  • After the onset of symptoms of a mental health condition in youths, intervention usually follows only after a delay of 8-10 years, in which time the condition may interfere with important developmental needs, resulting in greater challenges later in life.
  • Approximately 37% of youths with mental health conditions drop out of school before the age of 14.
  • 70% of youth in the juvenile justice system have a diagnosable mental illness.
  • Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death for ages 10 to 24.
  • In a five year period, the rate of youths with severe depression has risen from 5.9%-8.2%.


Substance Misuse

Substance use disorders and mental health can often accompany one another. Many people struggling with a mental health condition in the absence of medical treatment turn to substances as a means of self-medication. In turn, substance misuse can then exacerbate that initial mental health condition, and produce a harmful cycle of co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders.

  • More than 10 million adults live with co-occurring mental health and substance misuse disorders.
  • More than 64,000 Americans died of overdoses in 2016—nearly double the number as compared to a decade ago.
  • Approximately 88,000 alcohol-related deaths occur annually.



The lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning (LGBTQ) community is affected by mental health conditions just as any other community, but because of discrimination, prejudice, and other biases, are more likely to experience negative health outcomes.



To really address mental health for the whole nation, we will need to consider the different social, economic, and cultural factors that make it more likely for some racial and ethnic groups to receive treatment over others.

  • Mental health affects all races, but touches specific racial/ethnic groups to different degrees of severity due to social, economic, and cultural factors.
  • African American and Hispanic Americans use mental health services at about half the rate of white Americans, and Asian Americans at about 1/3 the rate of white Americans.
  • For all races/ethnic groups, the most commonly cited reason for not receiving treatment was cost of services/lack of insurance coverage.


On Treatment and Recovery

Mental health disorders are treatable. In fact, when compared to other common health conditions, such as hypertension or high cholesterol, depression, the most common mental health condition, is very treatable; the most effective treatments for depression improve symptoms in the large majority patients. Sadly, for a variety of reasons, more than half of adults living with a mental health condition received no treatment at all in the previous year. That’s more than 24 millions adults who are not receiving the treatment they need.

  • The best treatments for serious mental illnesses today are highly effective; between 70% to 90% of individuals have a significant reduction of symptoms and improved quality of life with a combination of pharmacological and psychosocial treatments and supports.
  • About 60% of adults living with a mental illness did not receive the treatment they needed in the last year, and 1 in 5 reported an unmet need.
  • There is a shortage of mental healthcare professionals—up to 6 times the patients for every 1 professional (when psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, counselors, and psychiatric nurses are counted combined).

We want to know how you will show your support this May for Mental Health Awareness Month. Join the conversation on social media by using the hashtags #BeWell, #BeHeard, #BeThere, and #4Mind4Body.

If you or someone you know is having a difficult time and would like to talk to someone about it, there are people who want to help. For teens who want to talk to other teens, call Teen Line at 310-855-4673, or text TEEN to 839863. You can also text LA to 741741 to talk with a trained Crisis Counselor for free, 24/7. For more information check out
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