May is Mental Health Month, and this year’s theme is “Life with a Mental Illness.” This theme is intended to shine light on the millions of individuals living with a mental illness and what life means for them.
Individuals are encouraged to submit their personal experiences anonymously to Mental Health America here, or they can post pictures, videos and words on their own social media, tagged with #mentalillnessfeelslike.
Raising Awareness Of Mental Illness
Mental Health America is just one of the many organizations that reaches millions of people across the country to raise awareness of mental illness. Many other organizations actively participate as well, including the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) and even the President of The United States.
With 44 million adults and children living with mental illness in the U.S., it’s clear that this population needs our support and understanding.
Prevalence Of Co-Occurring Disorders
Those with a dual diagnosis are of special concern. Mental health disorders and addiction often go hand in hand. Statistics show that nearly half of people who struggle with substance abuse also have a co-occurring mental health disorder.
Mental illness can be troublesome enough on its own, but when it’s paired with substance abuse, there are even more challenges to work through. This is why it’s crucial that there is more awareness regarding mental illness and its relationship to substance abuse.
Fortunately, we are moving in the right direction. We still have a long way to go, but we’re making progress, and that counts for something.
Treatment For Dual Diagnosis Improving
Years ago when a person sought drug and alcohol addiction treatment, only their physical symptoms were treated. The individual would go through detox and it was believed that they would have a fresh start.
Simply detoxing from drugs and alcohol isn’t enough to recover from addiction. Behaviors and negative thinking need to be changed. Life skills and coping strategies need to be taught. Underlying co-occurring disorders need to be addressed.
Many treatment centers today do a thorough assessment on their clients before treatment is started. They diagnose mental health conditions like anxiety or depression early on. The individual then receives adequate support for both the mental illness as well as the addiction often through psychotherapeutic medications, alternative therapies and counseling.
By addressing both components – the substance abuse and the mental illness – a person has a much greater chance of succeeding at recovery.
If you know someone who may be struggling with a mental illness or a co-occurring disorder, share this article with them. Voice your concerns in a loving and caring manner while raising awareness.