Changing our future: behavioral health

Pixabay.com photo

Pixabay.com photo

In the United States, 1 in 5 people will experience a mental illness this year. One in 17 Americans is living with a serious mental illness such as major depression, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia. Half of mental health conditions begin by age 14, and 75 percent develop by age 24, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).

The U.S. suicide rate swelled by 24 percent from 1999 to 2014 (National Public Health Week). Suicide was the 10th leading cause of death in 2015, claiming more than 44,000 lives (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). The same source says it was the third-leading cause of death of children between the ages of 10 and 14 and the second-leading cause of death among people ages 15 to 34. Twice as many people die by suicide as homicide (CDC).

Addiction is on the rise, often in conjunction with other behavioral health issues. Opioid-related deaths have risen five times nationwide since 1999, now killing an average of 91 people a day (National Public Health Week).

What can you do?

The numbers are horrifying and can make issues involving mental health and substance abuse seem hopeless. But there are ways each one of us can make a difference:

Learn more.

Find out more about types of mental illnesses, common misconceptions, and ways to care for yourself or a loved one struggling with behavioral health issues.

Resources: NAMI, National Institute of Mental Health, CDC

Speak up.

Stigma flourishes in the dark. Help yourself, your friends, and your loved ones cast aside any shame they feel about their mental illness or addiction by speaking openly and honestly. Don’t be afraid to ask if someone you suspect might be suicidal is thinking of harming himself. Talking about these issues doesn’t make them worse; in fact, in many cases, it brings welcome relief and is important to healing.

Resources: NAMI, To Write Love on Her Arms

Seek help.

If you are struggling with behavioral health issues, there are many resources available in Lake County and online. Call Lake District Wellness Center (541-947-6045), the countywide mental health provider, which has offices in Lakeview and Christmas Valley. Talk with Lake County Public Health (541-947-6045 in Lakeview or 541-576-2176 in Christmas Valley) or your primary care provider.

Resources: Trained crisis workers are available 24/7 on the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800-273-8255). If you prefer to text, text HOME to 741741 to reach the Crisis Text Line.