May Is Mental Health Month

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Mental health issues affect a large segment of society in the United States — adults, young adults, and children. In a give year, approximately one in five adults (43.8 million, or 18.5%) and the same proportion of young adults aged 13 to 18 (one in five, or 21.4%) experience some form of mental illness. And younger children are not immune — for those aged 8 to 15, the estimate is 13%.

What is Mental Illness?

Mental illness refers to health conditions or disorders that affect your mood, thinking, and/or behavior that result in problems functioning in daily life.

Mental disorders are common and wide-spread. You may have a friend, colleague, or relative with a mental disorder, or perhaps you have experienced one yourself at some point.

Some people who develop a mental illness may recover completely; others may have repeated episodes of illness with relatively stable periods in between. Still others live with symptoms of mental illness every day. They can be moderate or serious and cause severe disability.

Recognize the signs

While symptoms of mental illness vary,  here are five of the more common signs that a person may be in distress:

  • Personality Changes — Sudden or gradual changes in behavior.
  • Agitation —  Uncharacteristically angry, anxious, agitated, or moody.
  • Isolation and Withdrawal — Pulling away from family and friends.
  • Poor Self-Care — Lapse in personal care or engaging in risky behavior.
  • Sense of Hopelessness — Feeling overwhelmed or no longer optimistic.

If you recognize the signs

If you think you may be in distress:
  • Seek help as soon as possible.
  • Build a support system.
  • Find peer groups.
  • Participate in your treatment decisions.
  • Develop a recovery plan.
If you think someone you know may be in distress:
  • Support them.
  • Listen without judgement.
  • Offer to help or to get them professional help.
  • Let them know you care despite their challenges.
  • Educate yourself about their disorder.
  • Support healthy behaviors.

Want to know more…

Complete information about mental health disorders in adults and children is available in the Health Reference Series volume, Mental Health Disorders Sourcebook, 6th Edition.

 Available Online and in Print

Mental Health Disorders Sourcebook, Sixth Edition, is available online as part of your print purchase. Find out more at

“Whether newly diagnosed or a chronic condition, young or old, this is a worthwhile introduction to how the brain works and mental health concerns. Recommended.” — American Reference Books Annual, 2017

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