Mental Health Awareness Month

May 1 is here! It's Mental Health Awareness Month!

This is a very important month to me, as it brings awareness to mental health.  All this month there will be various people and companies and organizations talking about mental health.  Each time I see a commercial or blog post or website or Facebook status I smile.  Because I know each time I see one of these things, there are others who need help who see these things too.  Like I always say over and over, the more we talk about it, the less the stigma.  And the more we talk about it, the more people there are that reach out for help.

Mental health must must MUST be talked about the same way we talk about physical health.  It is just as important and scary and frustrating.

I'd struggled for so many years not knowing what was wrong with me.  Feeling guilty, afraid, and alone, it took me several years to reach out for help.  At 22, being diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and GAD, it was the most terrifying (but also most relieving) moment of my life. I could finally move on.  I could finally find ways to recover.  And I did. And I fight this mental illness fight every single day of my life so that I can help others recover too.  Because as hopeless as we feel, there's thousands out there that are feeling the same way.  We are never alone.

So some fun...well...not so fun facts:

  • Mental illness indirectly affects all Canadians at some time through a family member, friend or colleague.
  • 20% of Canadians will personally experience a mental illness in their lifetime.
  • Mental illness affects people of all ages, educational and income levels, and cultures.
  • Approximately 8% of adults will experience major depression at some time in their lives.
  • About 1% of Canadians will experience bipolar disorder (or “manic depression”).
  • Schizophrenia affects 1% of the Canadian population.
  • Anxiety disorders affect 5% of the household population, causing mild to severe impairment.
  • Suicide accounts for 24% of all deaths among 15-24 year olds and 16% among 25-44 year olds.
  • Suicide is one of the leading causes of death in both men and women from adolescence to middle age.
  • The mortality rate due to suicide among men is four times the rate among women.

How does it impact youth?

  • It is estimated that 10-20% of Canadian youth are affected by a mental illness or disorder – the single most disabling group of disorders worldwide.
  • Today, approximately 5% of male youth and 12% of female youth, age 12 to 19, have experienced a major depressive episode.
  • The total number of 12-19 year olds in Canada at risk for developing depression is a staggering 3.2 million.
  • Once depression is recognized, help can make a difference for 80% of people who are affected, allowing them to get back to their regular activities.
  • Mental illness is increasingly threatening the lives of our children; with Canada’s youth suicide rate the third highest in the industrialized world.
  • Suicide is among the leading causes of death in 15-24 year old Canadians, second only to accidents; 4,000 people die prematurely each year by suicide.
  • Schizophrenia is youth’s greatest disabler as it strikes most often in the 16 to 30 year age group, affecting an estimated one person in 100.
  • Surpassed only by injuries, mental disorders in youth are ranked as the second highest hospital care expenditure in Canada.
  • In Canada, only 1 out of 5 children who need mental health services receives them

These facts are scary and heart breaking. So lets talk.  Let's talk about mental health, especially this month, and raise awareness!