May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Over a third of substance addicts are estimated to also have some level of mental illness, according to 2014 statistics from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The commonality of mental illness and substance abuse gives those concerned about addiction more of a reason to bring awareness to mental health as well.
You may have heard the quip, “Psychiatrists say that one in four people are crazy. Take a look at the three nearest people; if they all seem okay, you’re the one.” There’s a level of truth—and a lot of error—in that statement:
Truth: One in four people may have some level of mental illness.
With a statistic as high as one in four, the odds are in favor of the average person passing several people with mental illness on the average day. Factor in those people’s immediate families, employers, and close friends, and half or more of those you meet are likely to be coping with mental-illness-related issues. And it’s quite possible you are one of them.
Truth: You can have a mental illness and not know it.
You might be wondering how society can function with 25 percent of its citizens victim. It’s because the illness is serious (i. e., everyday activities are extremely difficult or impossible) in only about 4 percent of the adult population. Others experience milder cases of anxiety and depression. It may never occur to them that their mental illness and substance abuse affect each other.
Error: People with mental illness are easy to spot.
Hardly. Most look and act like any “normal” person the majority of the time. Even someone with genuinely serious illness may simply seem cranky or bad-mannered. This is why the eruption into public violence usually comes as a shock to those who knew the culprit.
Society needs to stress that such incidents are exceptional. People with mental illness are far more likely to inflict violence on themselves than a stranger. And those whose illness is extreme, as many as 40 percent are under treatment to make daily tasks possible.
Error: Mental illness is something to be flippant about.
This ranks alongside “Mental illness doesn’t happen to ‘good’ people” and “Mentally ill people are unfit for ordinary life” as the most damaging and hurtful of misconceptions. Terms like “psycho” and “retard” belong in the trash alongside “cripple.” Besides, people with mental illness are smart enough to know when people are insulting them.
Besides being directly hurtful to anyone they’re aimed at, casual insults and jokes hurts society as a whole. Encouraging the idea that mental illness and substance abuse research funding is a waste furthers the stigma. Lack of support puts subtle pressure on those with mental illness (and their families) to “stay in the closet.”
Combat Mental Illness and Substance Abuse with Kemah Palms
As aforementioned, mental illness and substance abuse commonly co-occur. At Kemah Palms, we offer dual diagnosis treatment to ensure individuals can find recovery on all levels. To learn more about our various addiction treatment options and addiction therapy services, call 866.604.1873 today.