Submitted by The Lopez Island Prevention Coalition
If you have a mental health condition, you’re not alone. One in five American adults experiences some form of mental illness in any given year. And across the population, one in every 25 adults is living with a serious mental health condition such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or long-term recurring major depression.
May is National Mental Health Awareness Month, and we join in the efforts to raise awareness about the importance of mental health. We continue to advocate for its early discovery, treatment and support in our community. As with other serious illnesses, mental illness is no one’s fault; not yours or that of the people around you, but there still remains many wide spread misconceptions and misunderstandings about mental illness. Many people don’t seek treatment or remain unaware that their symptoms could be connected to a mental health condition. People may expect a person with serious mental illness to look visibly different from others, and they may tell someone who doesn’t “look ill” to “get over it” through willpower. These misconceptions add to the challenges of living with a mental health condition.
Research suggests mental disorders can lead to drug abuse, possibly as a means of “self-medication.” The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) reports “there is a definite connection between mental illness and the use of addictive substances. Individuals with an existing mental illness consume roughly 38 percent of all alcohol, 44 percent of all cocaine, and 40 percent of all cigarettes.”
The high rate of comorbidity between drug use disorders and other mental illnesses calls for a comprehensive approach that identifies and evaluates both. Accordingly, anyone seeking help for either drug abuse/addiction or another mental disorder should be checked for both and treated accordingly. It is important the Lopez community works toward securing the necessary resources to support those who have mental health and substance abuse disorders. If you want to know more or would like to help support this effort, please contact Georgeana at the Lopez Island Prevention Coalition via email at Lopez.firstname.lastname@example.org or phone at 360-468-3770.
Through developing and following a treatment plan, you can dramatically reduce many of your symptoms. People with mental health conditions can and do pursue higher education, succeed in their careers, make friends and have relationships. Mental illness can slow us down, but we don’t need to let it stop us.