May is Mental Health Month

While mental health affects everyone on a daily basis, May is dedicated to raising awareness and challenging the stigma surrounding mental health disorders. When mental health issues are treated as a weakness or something shameful, we all suffer.

Mental Health Month: Get the Facts

  • One in five Americans will experience a mental illness in their lifetime.
  • One in 25 Americans experience serious mental health disorders such as Schizophrenia, Borderline Personality Disorder, Major Depressive Disorder, or Bipolar Disorder.
  • 10 percent of American youth experience at least one major depressive episode.
  • Suicide is the 10th highest cause of death in the United States, claiming more than twice as many lives as homicide.
  • People with severe mental illness are more than 10 times as likely to be victims of violent crimes such as domestic violence and all forms of assault.
  • In 2016, 8.2 million Americans had co-occurring mental health and substance abuse disorders.
  • Less than half (48.1 percent) received treatment.
  • Only 6.9 percent received this treatment in 2016.
  • Symptoms for half of all mental health disorders develop before the age of 14. 75 percent of all mental health disorders show symptoms before the age of 24.

The Cycle of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Disorders

Not all who experience mental health issues will develop drug or alcohol addiction. However, substance abuse disorders are often rooted in trauma or unaddressed mental illness. Self-medication through drug and alcohol use offers escapism from the negative thoughts and emotions, but may lead to the development of mental and physical dependence.

For people with co-occurring mental health disorders, substance use can become a vicious cycle. Because drugs and alcohol are used to mute the negative symptoms of mental illness, letting go of that crutch can be intimidating. As a disease of the mind, addiction tricks you into believing you need illicit substances to cope with the challenges of life. This makes it difficult not to fall back on old habits when one experiences feelings of anxiety, depression, or other adversities. Without replacing these self-destructive coping mechanisms with positive life management skills, there is a high probability for relapse.

Concurrent Treatment for Substance Abuse and Mental Health Disorders

Integrated treatment that addresses both the mental and physical aspects of addiction provides the best chance for long-term success in recovery. For people with co-occurring disorders, treating both sides of substance abuse concurrently is vital to achieving and maintaining sobriety. Evidence-based treatment modalities such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy allow one to explore the underlying causes of addiction and changing the negative thought patterns that may lead to relapse. Niznik Behavioral Health facilities utilize these and other trauma-informed treatment methods throughout the full continuum of care.

If you or a loved one are struggling with substance abuse and a mental health disorder, we can help. Call us today.


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