Knowing About and Living with Mental Illness

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It is hard to talk about most disabilities.  Talking about mental health is among the hardest.  Yet, nearly 44 million Americans – that’s one in five – suffers from some form of mental illness.  .  To foster an understanding of the importance of mental health and reduce the stigmas associated with mental illness, Mental Health America in 1949 named May as Mental Health Month.  This theme this year is Life with Mental Illness.  The National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI), an important advocacy group, is also helping spread the message.  And both organizations are asking people to share their experiences anonymously.

Mental illnesses include a wide range of conditions, including attention-deficit anxiety disorder (ADHD), anxiety, autism, bipolar disorder, depression, eating disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorders, and phobias.  The family support and residential specialists at Advancing Opportunities know that some of these conditions occur together.  For example, people on the autism spectrum have difficulty in social situations; they may also exhibit depression, anxiety, OCD, or ADHD – or a combination of these conditions.  Many children with learning disabilities have ADHD and behavioral disorders.  In working with children with autism or a learning disability, it is important to have patience and understanding.  It is not uncommon for these children to act out, not out of defiance, but either in frustration because they are unable to express themselves in a more socially appropriate way.  Among children with autism, many are unable to communicate in words the frustrations they are experiencing, in addition to having a high degree of difficulty.



Good to Know!

  • One in five children ages 13-18 will experience a serious mental illness; 11% have a mood disorder, 10% a behavioral disorder, and 8% anxiety.
  • More than one-third (37%) of students who drop out of school have a mental illness.
  • Depression is the leading symptom and cause of disability worldwide.

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