**There are a couple of pieces here, including the following, that are written in speech form.**
- What has no prejudice and affects people of every age, sex, race, religion, economic status, and political status? The answer is mental illness.
- Today, I am here to tell you about how common it is to have – or know someone who has – a mental illness of some kind or another, and how we should – and can – fight the stigma that follows those that have those illnesses. It is a sad reality, that people with mental illnesses are pushed to feel shame because of the negative response they get from others when they are made aware of that single aspect about the person.
- I happen to have Bipolar and PTSD. I struggled with my illness for 23 years before finally finding out why I battled with the mood swings and – oftentimes – severe depression that happened to swallowed my entire childhood whole. Believe it or not, I was a wallflower. The majority of my life, until about 5 years ago, was spent fading into the background. I was very uncomfortable and quiet in public, and really didn’t have any interest in being around people. After years of child abuse, neglect, and domestic violence, I am who I am today. I am strong, confident, outgoing, and am very active in advocating for women’s rights, mental illness, and advocating for women and children who are dealing with domestic violence.
- First, I will be covering the numbers on how common mental illness is in America. I will then address a couple of misconceptions about mental illness. Last, I will provide ways in which we all can fight to erase the stigma and shame that comes with anyone having a mental illness.
- Generally speaking, mental illnesses are far more common than a lot would think. The numbers here speak for themselves.
- In 2012, there were nearly 44 million adults with a general mental illness.
- 18.6 percent of the American adult population has a mental illness.
- 14.9 percent of the American Male population has some kind of mental illness
- 22 percent of American Women are affected.
- Someone you know, someone you look up to, a family member, neighbor, or even you, could have a mental illness.
- Often it takes years, after becoming an adult, before an official diagnosis is made.
- Here are a few common misconceptions about people who have a mental illness.
- Mental illness is caused by a personal weakness. Actually, mental illnesses are caused by genetic, biological, social and environmental factors; quite often, a combination of any of those can make the symptoms worse. Seeking and accepting help for an illness, mental or physical, is a sign of strength.
- People with a mental illness never get better. Although there is no cure for a mental illness, each individual person can formulate a plan with a professional to enhance their daily lives. That plan is a range from medicinal therapy, to group therapy, and one-on-one therapy. There are also places that teach those with mental illness ways of coping with daily struggles and managing their illnesses.
- People with mental health problems are violent and unpredictable. This couldn’t be any further from the truth. There is just as much of a chance of a person with a mental illness getting violent as one of you. Only 3 to 5 percent of violent acts can be attributed to individuals living with a serious mental illness. People with severe mental illnesses are over 10 times more likely to be victims of violent crime than the general population. This closely ties in with the mass amount of people with mental illnesses that are locked in jails over petty crimes like disorderly conduct, criminal trespassing, and various other so-called crimes that only hinder the potential treatment that person could be receiving.
- The following bits of information are ways that we can all stop the stigma that society attaches to those with mental illnesses
- Educate yourselves. Research the different illnesses, treatments, and different places that provide help for those with mental illnesses.
- Volunteer/Advocate. Almost all places that help people with mental illness are vastly understaffed. There are also organizations, such as NAMI, that have different events to raise awareness. Recovery Zone, located at 7th and Magazine, has groups and helps people with daily living skills.
- Show support towards anyone you know who has a mental illness by lending an ear, offering resources if needed, and volunteering!
In closing; the percentages of people with mental illnesses show just how common it really Is, there are some flawed perceptions of those who have such an illness, and there are many ways to advocate for those that suffer from a mental illness.
Most everyone said that they didn’t have a clue about Robin Williams’ illness when he abruptly died. He is not the first amazing talent to have lost a battle to mental illness. Volunteering, keeping people educated, and encouraging treatment are a few ways that we can prevent other such tragedies that are closer to home. If you take any of this with you today, please remember this: People with mental illness are just that, people.
Bekiempis, V. (2014, February 28). Nearly 1 in 5 Americans Suffers From Mental Illness Each Year. Retrieved October 21, 2014, from http://www.newsweek.com/nearly-1-5-americans-suffer-mental-illness-each-year-230608
Mental Health Myths and Facts. (2011, March 15). Retrieved October 22, 2014, from http://www.mentalhealth.gov/basics/myths-facts/
Any Mental Illness (AMI) Among Adults. (2012, June 19). Retrieved October 22, 2014, from http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/prevalence/any-mental-illness-ami-among-adults.shtml