What is it about mental illness that makes people turn a blind eye to the realities around them – yes, most probably in their families or themselves? Why have we as a species come to see behavioral health as something to run away from, not only as a blot on the rest of our families, but somehow raising questions that some sort of inherited mental illness will get us locked up or killed – as too many Americans with mental illness have been?
A crisis? Absolutely, and the tougher the times, the worse the crises. And we’ve criminalized mental illness such that those acting out are too often shot down by police officers.
But those are just a few of the issues facing us when, according to research from the Wilder Foundation, “the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)estimated that 45.1 million adults, or nearly 20 percent of the population, had a mental illness in the past year; 11 million adults had a serious mental illness in the past year. Additionally, nearly 9 million adults had a substance use disorder in the previous year.”
Applying SAMHSA’s estimates to the number of adults in Dakota, Ramsey, and Washington Counties, Wilder reports, it is estimated that 245,800 adults living in the East Metro alone had a mental illness in the past year with an estimated 59,300 adults having a serious mental illness, and 49,170 had a substance abuse problem in the past year.
(Serious mental illnesses are diagnosable mental disorders that interfere with or limit one or more major life activities for adults. Conditions include bipolar disorder, dual diagnosis, major depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and schizophrenia.)
Now, on this beginning day of Mental Health Awareness Week, we talk with those dealing with mental health crises, urgent care for mental health, and even mental illness itself to get us thinking about how we can stop this business of adding stigma upon stigma to a society so wracked by some form of mental illness. And just what IS emotional CPR?
TTT’s ANDY DRISCOLL and MICHELLE ALIMORADI try to make sense of an sickness that takes such a back seat to all other human ailments.