May is Mental Health Awareness Month

The month of May since 1949 has been recognized annually as Mental Health Awareness Month in an effort to help make the public better aware of the many issues associated with mental illness.

Professionals here, across Tennessee and nationwide, who are on the front line of defense and must deal with the many issues related to mental illness on a daily basis, focus their attention on reminding the general public each May that one in every five adults in the U.S. will suffer from a mental illness condition during their lifetime.

That single fact alone as cited by the National Institute of Mental Health should be sufficient enough to make us all recognize that mental illness literally affects everyone, according to Cumberland Mental Health, an affiliate of Volunteer Behavioral Health, a nonprofit agency serving clients in 31 counties in Middle and Southeast Tennessee and the Upper Cumberland Region.

According to mental health professionals on staff at the local center, those suffering from issues associated with mental illness can be found in the workplace, among personal friendships, with immediate and distant family members, and virtually in all circles of life where individuals are in contact with others

Mental illness is a term that may be applied to a broad and diverse listing of concerns including depression, bi-polar disorders, behavioral issues, suicide, addiction, and many more.

It is important to recognize and understand that mental illness issues can be treated and that help is as near as a local mental health center whether in this community or perhaps in a neighboring community.

Matters related to mental illness for which Tennesseans should be aware include the fact that depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide; that suicide is a leading cause of death for youth between the ages of 14 and 24; that addiction and substance abuse are considered mental health issues; that 50 percent of all lifetime mental illness cases begin at age 14; and that 60 percent of adults and 50 percent of youth (ages 8-15) who suffer with mental illness did not receive treatment during the past year.

While much attention continues to be focused on suicide prevention in Tennessee, suicide rates, particularly among youth and young adults, are on the rise and suicide is still a leading cause of death in the Volunteer state for persons in this age group.

For more information about services and treatments available for those who are dealing with mental illness including addiction and substance abuse visit www.vbhcs.org or call toll free 1-877-567-6051.

Susan K. Phillips, LMSW, center director/Cumberland Mental Health.

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