In my previous blog, I explained that I am here to raise awareness for ALL mental illnesses not just the common ones that everyone knows about. 1 in 5 Americans suffer from mental illnesses but not many people understand that said Americans suffer from a greater variety of mental illnesses. Not a lot of Americans understand that when it comes to Mental Illnesses there is more than just Depression and Bipolar disorder. But in this blog I will like to backtrack a little and focus on the fact that many Americans know little about Mental Illnesses period.
To get a sense of what 1 in 5 looks like, try this in class. Count off each person in class. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. (repeat) Every time you get to five, that person has a mental illness. Add up the total amount of people who ‘have a mental illness.’ Next compare that to the amount of people that are in the class.
A survey given out by the American Psychiatric Association found that 44% of Americans know little to nothing about mental illnesses. 44%. That means only a little more than half of Americans know something about mental illnesses. On top of that, one- third of Americans mistakenly think that emotional weakness is a major cause of mental illnesses. With many Americans suffering from mental illnesses, the lack of knowledge is very dangerous. Sometimes they just know the wrong information. A popular myth of Mental Illness is that children do not experience mental health problems. Due to this believe less than 20% of the children that do have a mental illness get the treatment that is needed. Another popular myth is that people can control their symptoms will sheer willpower. You cannot tell a person who is depressed to cheer up and believe that if they try very hard, they will not be depressed anymore. It just does not work like that. Another popular myth is that medication is the only solution for mental illnesses. Medication is not the only solution. The more common and helpful solution is also therapy.
I myself wanted to test what exactly do people know about mental illnesses, so I designed a survey to test just that. My results are as followed. The very first question I asked was “What is Mental Illness?” The answers were very unique but a specific answer stood out to me. The second was “When somebody is getting crazy.” This result stood out to me because this is exactly what I have personally heard people say when talking about mental illness. Crazy. That is why 31% of adults say that even if they had a mental illness they would not seek treatment. Simply because they fear what others would think of them. My survey also tested about their knowledge of specific mental illnesses. Namely, Lycanthropy, Aboulomania and ,a familiar one, Alexithymia. 80% of my survey takers correctly answered what was Lycanthropy and Alexithymia. 60% correctly answered what was Aboulomania. Yet when I went back to ask them feedback on the quiz, the majority of them claimed they had either guesses or used context clues. Only one knew the correct answers simply because of the fact that they knew someone with those mental illnesses.
When asked “What is Mental Illness” these were the responses I received.
My final two questions, were on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being very severe “How severe is Mental Illness?” 50% said 5, 40% said 4 and the remaining 10% said 3. The other question asked on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being very important, “How important is awareness of Mental Illnesses?” 90% said 5, 10% said 4. I am glad to see that many of my survey takers understand the importance of mental illness awareness. Now I wonder if any of them will help me do anything to raise that awareness. On May 16, 2015, I am planning on doing the 5K run/walk for Mental Illness. This walk is sponsored by NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) and is done to raise money and awareness for Mental Illness. I am wondering how many people would be willing to join me on this event. Registration is free but if you have any more questions, you can consult the NAMI walk page and the walk page.