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Mental Illness Awareness

Psychiatric disorders are much more common than most people realize. It is estimated that in any given year 22.1% of the population over 18 years of age in the United States have a psychiatric disorder. Four out of the ten leading causes of disability in the U.S. are psychiatric disorders―major depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Almost 30% of all people who seek general medical care are actually suffering from a diagnosable and treatable psychiatric disorder. Among people who are suffering from a psychiatric disorder the use of general medical care is twice as high.

Psychiatric disorders have biological, psychological and social causes. In turn, they can affect the sufferer’s occupational and social lives and their physical function and health.

The stigma of “mental illness”―prejudice and misconceptions about these conditions―runs very deep in our society. People who don't understand the behavior of sufferers with psychiatric disorders may shun or discriminate against them unreasonably. This leads many of those who have such disorders to try to hide their conditions or to deny them to themselves, and thus to miss out on effective treatment and assistance.

Disrespect for people with severe psychiatric disorders results from ignorance of the terrible pain suffered by those with schizophrenia, anxiety, depression and other mental disorders. The disrespect also results from a feeling of helpless fear of the unknown.

Information on specific mental illnesses is available at www.healthyminds.org.

Statistics relating to mental illness are available at the National Institute of Mental Health Center’s website: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/statistics/index.shtml