Today we begin the month where we focus on bringing awareness to mental health, Mental Health Month. I wanted to take the time to discuss some of the ripple effects of mental illness. Mental illness rarely only affects the person experiencing it but rather it impacts all those connected to them.
Note this infographic from the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
I often discuss the impacts of mental wellness on the physical body where it can increase the chances of disease, pain, sleep disorders, etc. but note here where it can also lead to an increased chance of substance abuse (which by the way can also alter the mental state).
Affects on the person's family
Maybe you're a caregiver to someone suffering from mental illness or being challenged with their mental wellness. This can take it's toll on the caregiver's physical, mental and emotional health. I often talk to those caring for family members where they themselves experience fatigue and even mental despair from not knowing what each day will hold.
Impacts to the community
The NAMI infographic mentions "20% of people experiencing homelessness also have a serious mental illness". This is actually where my journey to help people started. As a young child I saw the affects and just really wanted to help those who's paths I crossed. But when you look at our population of homeless, imprisoned, and in the justice system, there are many affected by mental illness who never received help early on.
This impacts us all
Did you see that stat? Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide. How often do we see disability as a "physical" thing? But a disability is merely a condition that limits or hinders you which can be mental, emotional and/or physical in nature. And even more staggering is the amount of money that disorders like depression and anxiety cost the economy. Not just in lost productivity as mentioned here by the NAMI but also in healthcare, caregiving resources, lost wages...I could go on.
Do you know someone suffering from mental illness? Maybe it's you. YOU ARE NOT ALONE. There are resources to help and it IS ok to seek help!