Mental Health Month began in 1949 to raise awareness of mental health conditions and mental wellness for all. The promotion of positive mental health and the prevention of substance abuse and mental illness have been key parts of SAMHSA’s mission to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America’s communities.
Mental health is a key component to a person’s overall health. As discussed by the Surgeon General, Dr. Regina M. Benjamin, in the Mental Health: A Report of the Surgeon General, “mental health” and “mental illness” are not polar opposites but may be thought of as points on a continuum. Mental health is a state of successful performance of mental function, resulting in productive activities, fulfilling relationships with other people and the ability to adapt to change and to cope with adversity. Mental health is indispensable to personal well-being, family and interpersonal relationships and contribution to community or society. Mental illness is the term that refers collectively to all diagnosable mental disorders. Mental disorders are health conditions that are characterized by alterations in thinking, mood, or behavior (or some combination thereof) associated with distress and/or impaired functioning.
According to estimates from the 2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, approximately 20 percent of persons aged 18 and older reported having a diagnosable mental illness in the previous year. Mental and substance use disorders often occur together – and often with general medical conditions, such as diabetes or heart disease. In fact, individuals admitted for treatment reporting psychiatric problems, in addition to substance abuse problems, more than doubled between 1992 and 2006.[i]
By 2020, mental and substance use disorders will surpass all physical diseases as the major cause of disability worldwide.[ii] One estimate puts the total economic costs of mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders among youth in the United States at approximately $247 billion.[iii]
As these statistics show, there is a growing need to increase awareness about mental health issues, treatment options and prevention methods. To find out more about how SAMHSA is doing this, please review SAMHSA’s Strategic Initiatives document, Leading Change: A Plan for SAMHSA’s Roles and Actions 2011-2014.
We must do more to educate ourselves about the significant health and societal impacts of these illnesses and do more for 1 in 4 Americans living with a mental or substance use condition. Raise your personal awareness about mental health by checking out the following resources:
- SAMHSA store (publications and other related resources)
- Mental Health First Aid
- National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery
- Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
- Mental Health America
- National Alliance on Mental Illness
- Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law
May is also Borderline Personality Disorder Awareness Month. To learn more about this serious mental illness and its treatment, please see SAMHSA’s recent Report to Congress on the Borderline Personality Disorder. Also, see the National Education Alliance for Borderline Personality Disorder website for more information.
Behavioral health is essential for health. Prevention works. Treatment is effective. People recover from mental and substance use disorders.
*** note: blog post was updated 5/5/11 to include SAMHSA’s Report to Congress on Borderline Personality Disorder.
[i] Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Office of Applied Studies. Treatment Episode Data Set—Admissions (TEDS-A)—Concatenated, 1992 to Present [Computer file]. (ICPSR25221-v3). Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2010-05-04. doi:10.3886/ICPSR25221
[ii] World Health Organization (WHO). (2004). Promoting mental health: Concepts, emerging evidence, practice. Summary report. Geneva, Switzerland: WHO. Retrieved March 25, 2011, from http://www.who.int/mental_health/evidence/en/promoting_mhh.pdf
[iii] National Research Council & Institute of Medicine. (2009). Preventing mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders among young people: Progress and possibilities. Committee on the Prevention of Mental Disorders and Substance Abuse among Children, Youth, and Young Adults: Research Advances and Promising Interventions. O’Connell, M. E., Boat, T., & Warner, K. E. (Eds). Board on Children, Youth, and Families, Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.