You’d be surprised to learn how many people are affected by mental illness on any given day. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S.—43.8 million, or 18.5%—experiences mental illness in a given year. Conditions like depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, addiction, and alcoholism are common, yet highly stigmatized.
During the month of May, Robbins Library is joining countless others worldwide to recognize Mental Health Awareness Month and understand how mental illness affects our daily lives. We want to start by providing some facts from the Mental Health Barometer published in 2015 by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA):
- In Massachusetts, about 208,000 adults aged 18 or older (4.0% of all adults) per year in 2013–2014 had serious thoughts of suicide within the year prior to being surveyed.
- In Massachusetts, about 222,000 adults aged 18 or older (4.2% of all adults) per year in 2013–2014 had SMI (serious mental illness) within the year prior to being surveyed.
- In Massachusetts, about 383,000 individuals aged 12 or older (6.7% of all individuals in this age group) per year in 2013–2014 were dependent on or abused alcohol within the year prior to being surveyed.
- In Massachusetts, about 173,000 individuals aged 12 or older (3.0% of all individuals in this age group) per year in 2013–2014 were dependent on or abused illicit drugs within the year prior to being surveyed.
- In Massachusetts, among individuals aged 12 or older with alcohol dependence or abuse, about 31,000 individuals (7.5%) per year from 2010 to 2014 received treatment for their alcohol use within the year prior to being surveyed.
- In Massachusetts, among individuals aged 12 or older with illicit drug dependence or abuse, about 22,000 individuals (13.6%) per year from 2010 to 2014 received treatment for their illicit drug use within the year prior to being surveyed.
The lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning (LGBTQ) community faces mental health conditions just like everybody else. However, they may be at a higher risk of negative mental health outcomes due to prejudice and other biases (NAMI).
- LGBTQ individuals are almost 3 times more likely than others to experience a mental health condition such as major depression or generalized anxiety disorder (NAMI).
- For LGBTQ people aged 10–24, suicide is one of the leading causes of death. LGBTQ youth are 4 times more likely and questioning youth are 3 times more likely to attempt suicide, experience suicidal thoughts or engage in self-harm than straight people. Between 38-65% of transgender individuals experience suicidal ideation (NAMI).
- An estimated 20-30% of LGBTQ people abuse substances, compared to about 9% of the general population. 25% of LGBT people abuse alcohol, compared to 5-10% of the general population (NAMI).
If you or someone you know is struggling, remember you are not alone. There are many organizations, services, and treatment options within reach. Here are just a few:
- Arlington Youth Counseling Center (AYCC) is a licensed, community-based mental health counseling center serving Arlington youth (ages 3-21) and their families.
- MentalHealth.gov provides one-stop access to U.S. government mental health and mental health problems information.
- National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness.
- NAMI Cambridge/Middlesex
- NAMI Massachusetts
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) is a national network of local crisis centers that provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
- Trans Lifeline (877-565-8860) is a free crisis hotline staffed by transgender people for transgender people.
- The Trevor Project is the leading national organization focused on crisis and suicide prevention efforts among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) youth.
- LGBT National Help Center is a non-profit, tax-exempt organization that provides vital peer-support, community connections and resource information to people with questions regarding sexual orientation and/or gender identity.
For more information about mental health, check out the following resources: