Mental Health Awareness Week

Mental health awareness

In the past decade, there have been tremendous strides to decrease the stigma of mental health disorders and to increase the willingness for those suffering in darkness to seek the help they need to manage and recover from these challenges. Further, integrating medical and mental health services in the same offices, on occasion, has broken down silos through collaborative communication. Legislation has been passed in recent years to permit coverage for mental health services, including autism services, in most states.

In spite of these efforts, the numbers are staggering. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), nearly 1 in 4 Americans (62 million persons) are affected by mental illness annually, and 1 in 17 (14 million persons) lives with a major mental illness such as depression, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia. Close to 20 percent of teens from age 13-18 cope with mental illness annually, and about 18 percent of adults (42 million persons) cope with anxiety disorders. The cost of mental illness is overwhelming – $193 billion annually in lost earnings, according to NAMI. In fact, mood disorders such as depression represent the third most common cause of hospitalization for both youths and adults aged 18-44 (

Last week, we received an email from a colleague, “this is the seventh time in less than a year that I’ve personally known or have a friend who lost someone to self-inflicted death.” We have colleagues throughout the nation who have lost child, adolescent, and adult clients to suicide this year. It is not just suicide, however. Child abuse and neglect, domestic violence, weapon use, bullying, lower job performance relating to lower level positions, and disability are all factors related to mental illness. The influence of mental illness is substantial.

Further, individuals with chronic mental illness are also susceptible to chronic medical health concerns. While attending a recent presentation by the University of Michigan Cardiology team, several BRAINS clinicians took note that most cardiologists forget to refer to mental health care, despite the high risk for cardiac patients to experience mood disorders. But, it is not just heart disease. Diabetes, pain, headaches/migraines, illness propensity…the list can go on and on of medical concerns that are linked to overall psychological well-being. The immune system is highly vulnerable to mood states and vice versa.

During this Mental Health Awareness Week – reach out. Seek the help and services needed to address these concerns. They are just as important for your overall well-being.

We would welcome the chance to help you understand these concerns. BRAINS is an integrated practice group offering specialized services from infancy through adulthood. We have specialists in medical and mental health care to provide a more holistic care approach and work collaboratively with other professionals.

We look forward to hearing from you and working with you to find solutions to maximize the potential in you, a family member, friends, or someone else you may know.

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Authors: Jesse J. Piehl, Ph.D., DLLP; Jennifer Reminga, LMSW, CAADC; & Chelsea Folkertsma, LLMSW