Mental illness prejudice is changing

Mental illness prejudice is changing

There are many celebrities who have publicly made known their battle with depression or other mental illness. In her book “Down Came the Rain,” Brooke Shields describes her battle with postpartum depression. “Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling has openly discussed her struggles with poverty and depression using public platforms such as social media and TED Talks events. There are more misconceptions about mental illness but a recent U.S. survey affirmed that times are changing.

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention commissioned a Harris Poll, in conjunction with the Anxiety and Depression Association of America and the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention, to gauge public opinion on mental health, anxiety and suicide awareness. In August of 2015, the survey was emailed to a random sampling of people aged 18 and older who live in the United States.

Most of the respondents were aware that risk factors for suicide included life events, depression, posttraumatic stress disorder and bipolar disorder. However, 53 percent of participants had no idea that people with anxiety disorders are equally at risk of suicide. The respondents acknowledged the link between mental health and general wellbeing but also viewed mental healthcare as inaccessible and expensive.

The survey provided a window into how Americans perceive mental health conditions, barriers to treatment and their comprehension of suicide risk factors. According to the survey, women have more suicidal thoughts than men but they are also more likely to report mental illness symptoms and seek treatment.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC,) in the 14 years between 1999 and 2013, nationwide suicide rates went up by 19.9 percent. Regardless of the statistics, 94 percent of the respondents thought that suicide can be prevented.

Changes in opinion are often generational. Respondents between the ages of 18 and 24 are becoming more comfortable with seeking medical help and more prone to consider it a sign of strength compared with older individuals. Any person who is contemplating suicide or their friends and family members can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) and make sure the person is not left alone until help arrives.

If a person talks about killing themselves, being a burden, having no reason to live or that they feel trapped or in unbearable pain, physical or emotional, these are warning signs. They may increase use of drugs or alcohol, search online for suicide methods, act recklessly, isolate themselves, sleep too much or too little. Those contemplating suicide may also say goodbye to people, give away prized possessions or appear aggressive.

Mental illness can strike any person at any time; no one is immune. The more the condition is understood, the better it will be for those with current mental illness and those who may experience it in the future. If you would like further information, please call the Florida Depression Helpline today.

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