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Mental Health Awareness Month

By Jeremy Rinne, Pharm.D.

Have you missed being able to eat inside a restaurant or the ability to attend a sporting event or concert? Sadly, we just experienced Easter Sunday differently than we ever have before. Covid-19 is touching every part of our lives, probably none more so than our mental health. In 2018 according to the National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI), one in five Americans have experienced mental illness with approximately one in 25 diagnosed with a serious mental illness. Half of all lifetime mental illnesses begin by the age of 14 and 75 percent by the age of 24. May is Mental Health Awareness Month.
NAMI lists the following as possible warning signs and symptoms of mental illness:  excessive worry, fear, or sadness; inability to concentrate or learn; extreme mood changes; prolonged feelings of anger; social avoidance; difficulties relating to others; changes in sleeping habits, eating habits, or sex drive; difficultly perceiving reality; unaware of your own behavioral changes; alcohol/drug abuse; multiple physical ailments without an obvious cause; suicidal thoughts; extreme worries about your appearance; and unable to coop with daily activities, problems, or stresses. A mental health professional will assess your symptoms using the most current DSM criteria to help determine a diagnosis. Treatment plans may include medication, counseling, and group sessions among other things. As NAMI states there are no “one size fits all” treatment plans and the most effective plans occur when the patient is directly involved.
Mental illness has typically carried a stigma and this has to change. In 2018 only 43 percent of those with a mental illness received treatment. To put this into perspective according to NAMI 46 percent of those that committed suicide had a mental illness diagnosis, but 90 percent had shown symptoms of a mental illness. If you recognize the warning signs and symptoms in yourself please talk with a health care professional. 
NAMI helpline:  1-800-950-NAMI (6264)
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:  1-800-273-8255


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