Ending the Stigma
Mental Health Affects Men and Women Differently
There are multiple studies, theories, and opinions given as to why women and men differ in symptoms and consequences to mental health that they experience. Today I wanted to bring to light a handful of current statistics that demonstrate the difference women and men face in the world of mental illness. The question I want to ask is why do you think these statistics are true? What environmental, situational, genetic or other factors could be the cause of the differences or similarities? I have my own opinions, but I would like to open up the discussion. By discussing topics such as these, it helps to bring awareness and a feeling of equality to all diagnoses and genders who may experience similar symptoms. These statistics are of course not exclusive and vary based on many different factors. The statistics that I have researched and gathered below are based on global statistics, unless otherwise specified to a certain region/country. Take a look, you might be surprised:
- Women are twice as likely to be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.
- Men are more likely to commit suicide – in the UK alone, 6,233 suicides were recorded of which 78% were male and 22% female. However, women attempt suicide more than men.
- Suicide is the leading cause of death for men under 35 years old.
- 41.9% of women experience depressive disorders compared to 29.3% of men.
- Men and women are equally likely to develop bipolar disorder.
- In women, symptoms of schizophrenia appear in the early 20’s.
- 8.7% of men are alcohol dependent compared to 3.3% of women.
- Only 36% of men referred to outpatient psychiatric therapy follow through to attend.
- Men commit 86% of violent crime – (arguably to due mental illness according to the website – however this is a debate for another time and does not reflect my opinion – I just wanted the statistic to be included.)
Again, reasons for the onset and likelihood of mental illness and the differences between genders largely depends on risk factors such as –
- Childhood = the situations one has had to overcome as well as the responsibility delegated to them
- Genetics = the reflection of one’s parents and ‘family tree’ in the biological development of that person. It is known that a person is more likely to develop a mental illness if their parents are diagnosed with one.
- Life events/trauma = what a person has had to face in their lifetime, such as rape, abuse, family trauma, homelessness, grief, etc.
- The use of substances can induce mental illness and long-term psychotic features.
- Having a support system.
- Willingness to receive professional help when needed.
- Ongoing physical health problems, such as chronic diabetes or a work injury that can lead to hopelessness or depression.
What do you think are reasons that gender plays a role in mental health? Think about it…why aren’t symptoms the same for everyone? Which risk factors listed above do you think are the biggest influencers and why? What are some other reasons/factors you may have come up with? Thank you all for participating in an important discussion that aims to lift the stigma of mental health between men and women and shed light to the causes/reasons behind the difference – as well as to inform the community that there is in fact a difference and to end judgment to those effected the most by certain diagnoses. Not everyone experiences mental health the same way!!
National Suicide Prevention Week
I’m sure many of you have seen or heard that this week – 9th to the 5th – is National Suicide Prevention Week (NSPW). I wanted to add my own thoughts/information to this because it’s something that is very important to me. I know people in my life that have took their own life by suicide and I hear daily about people who want to follow through with suicide, working in the field that I do. It’s not something to take lightly and statistics are only increasing. The point of NSPW is to educate professionals and the community about suicide prevention and warning signs of suicide. September as a whole is Suicide Prevention Month. What are you going to do to contribute or advocate? It’s important to be a part of this movement to continue to spread awareness and bring everyone to the realization that suicide does happen and that it is 100% preventable. Nobody should have to feel that they have no one to turn to, no future, no hope, no support, or no reason to live to the point of wanting to end their life. Yes, these feelings are generally ‘normal’ from time to time, but the point of contemplating suicide is much too far.
What can you do to help?
- Understand the warning signs
- Increased risk taking behaviors
- Increased drug/alcohol abuse
- Unable to sleep or sleeping all of the time
- Increased agitation/irritability
- Dramatic mood changes
- Loss of interest in previously desired activities
- Lack of socialization
- Giving away belongings
- Talking about death nonchalantly
- Be a listening ear and a helping hand
- Be aware of available crisis options (write these down in case you or a friend need it!)
- Crisis Hotline = 800.273.TALK
- Crisis Textline = 741-741
- Sexual Assault hotline = 877.995.5247
- Substance abuse hotline = 855.458.6606
- Trans Lifeline = 877-565-8860
- If someone tells you they are feeling suicidal, do not minimize their feelings, blame them, or threaten to ‘tell on them.’ Be understanding – they are reaching out because they need and want help!
- Share on social media about NSPW and how others can get involved.
- By showing your friends and family how you are supporting the movement, they are more likely to join as well! Social media is a great way to spread news and information fast!
- Let the people you love know that you are supporting this cause – they are probably going to feel more comfortable confiding in you if they need to.
- Talk about mental health openly and positively to lift the stigma.
- On average, 123 people commit suicide per day.
- Each year 44,965 Americans are taken by suicide.
- In 2016, firearms account for 51% of suicides.
- For every suicide there are 25 attempts.
- Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death.
Take a stand today and do something to make a difference! Whether it be making a social media post, talking to a friend, wearing clothing that advocates for mental health, or simply by smiling at strangers more. Imagine if we all worked together to make each other feel more safe…
Why Mental Illness is Becoming More Prevalent in Youth Today
A patient brought up a very insightful question to me during group the other day, asking “Why do you think teens/adolescents are having more and more mental illnesses and why is it starting at a younger age?” I want to open this up as a discussion to all of you, asking: Why do you think adolescent mental illness is increasing – what could be the cause and why is it overlooked?
Mentalhealthamerica.net says that ‘rates of youth with severe depression increased from 5.9% in 2012 to 8.2% in 2015. Even with severe depression, 76% of youth are left with no or insufficient treatment.’
I’ll start by giving my opinion, and this is exactly how I responded when I was asked the question without having pondering it beforehand. I was surprised that my answer was almost instantaneous; I believe youth are experiencing symptoms of mental illness because of social media, mainly. There is such a high expectation of what someone should look like, how they should act, the products they should buy, the workout routine they should have, what their relationships should embody, etc. At a young age, children are being handed phones and tablets that gives them all of these images and false-ideas of what life should be like, as if there is a correct ‘formula.’ As soon as their life doesn’t match what they saw online, self-esteem decreases, self-doubt increases along with feelings of anxiety. Another reason I believe youth is more prone to mental health conditions in today’s age is the overwhelming amount of divorces in their parents and general lack of support (even if parents are together.) How children and teens base their self-image is largely based off of support and recognition from their parents.
Other statistics about mental health and youth:
- 20% of teens 13-18 suffer a mental health condition without treatment.
- 8% of youth have an anxiety disorder.
- 50% of students 14+ with a mental illness drop out of high school.
Tell me what you think!
How Do You Support Mental Health?
Today I want to touch on my favorite mental health awareness clothing and accessories! This is such a great way to spread the word about mental health and get more people asking questions. Clothing is a great conversation starter for people to ask “what does your shirt mean or represent?” or “where did you get that at?” so others can support it as well. It’s a quick and easy way to lift the stigma of mental health, just by wearing it proudly and spreading education along the way.
- I’ll start with my favorite accessory; stickers! I recently bought stickers from another blog, titled Free and Above and absolutely love them! I put a ton all over my laptop. I’ve already had a couple people ask me about them when I go to write in my local coffeeshop (my favorite spot to blog). It was a great conversation each time and also very rewarding! (below)
- Another accessory that seems to be popular is a Pop Socket for your phone! I really like the “Fight the Stigma” one and the “Mental Health Matters” one! (below).
3. Lastly, are some of my favorite tee-shirts! (below)
How are you going to spread awareness and get the conversation going? It all starts with YOU individually. Lets step up together and make a difference. Happy Saturday, everyone!
How Common is Psychosis and What Does it Look Like?
I talk about depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder frequently so I want to take the time to address psychosis and some myths that go along with the stigma on that. I want to start by defining: Comorbidity – the presence of more than one disease occurring in an individual at the same time. Meaning, that someone very well can be experiencing depression along with hallucinations and other psychotic symptoms. According to Mental Health America, 3.5% of the population experiences psychosis and 1% is diagnosed with schizophrenia. It sounds small, but it is more people than you would think (about 76 million people!)
Psychosis – general term to describe bizarre patterns of behaviors and/or thinking, including hallucinations, delusions, and severe changes in mood.
Before I began working in an inpatient psychiatric hospital, I remember reading about this topic in school or seeing movies about it and thinking “yeah right…that is probably pretty rare to come across!” I was so wrong. Now that I work with people 1:1 everyday who are experiencing symptoms of psychosis, I feel that I have a much better understanding of what it is, what it isn’t, and how to help in the best way I can. The most important thing to remember is that they are scared too. They don’t understand what is going on either and need a little extra help to become reality oriented, whether that be a medication change, change in living situation/care, or simply a compassionate person to listen.
If you or someone you know is experiencing psychosis:
- talk to a health professional/counselor
- speak with a case manager
- call the crisis hotline at 800.273.TALK
- text the crisis hotline at 741-741
- * if that person is a danger to themselves or anyone else, the emergency room would be the best place.
There are plenty of resources out there. The first step is recognizing what it looks like and understanding that it is OK and necessary to ask for help without fear of being judged or labeled. Let’s start listening, helping, and spreading awareness!
Stay tuned next Thursday for more on Statistics and Stigmas in mental health!
Mental Health – Fact or False?
See how many of these 10 statistics on mental health trends you can answer correctly. Are these statements facts…or fiction? Read through each one and take your best guess. You might be surprised by the answers! (Answers below – with descriptions)
- 1/2 of all chronic mental illness happens before age 14. 3/4, happening by age 25.
- Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide.
- 90% of state prisoners have a recent mental health history.
- 20% of those who die by suicide have an underlying mental condition.
- 60% of adults with mental illness have not received professional help in the last year.
- 1 in 200 Americans live with Schizophrenia.
- 8% of youth have an anxiety disorder.
- The average delay between onset of symptoms and treatment is 8-10 years.
- Out-of-control or risk-taking behavior is NOT a warning sign.
- Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death in youth between 10-24 years old.
- FICTION – Only 24% of state prisoners have a recent mental health history.
- FICTION – 90% of those who die by suicide have a mental condition they battle with.
- FICTION- 1 in 100 Americans live with schizophrenia…a much smaller ratio!
- FICTION- Risk-taking and out of control behavior is a huge warning sign of an underlying mental health issue that should be treated.
*Bringing awareness to these trends, among others, is so important. More people than we realize struggle each day with their own condition, diagnosed or not. Let’s start speaking up, lending a listening ear, and helping one another be healthy! #10 was probably the most shocking to me. Suicide should never be the answer, let alone for someone so young. For more information and statistics, click the resource below.
How a Simple Smile Can Make All the Difference
1 in 5 adults have a mental condition. Think of 5 adults you see every day…they could be co-workers, family members, friends, you name it. Chances are, at least one of those people are struggling with something within themselves. Wouldn’t you want to help if you know you could make a difference?
An article titled: How a Single Smile From a Stranger Saved My Life depicts it perfectly. Here, a woman describes in detail of how she was feeling terribly alone, lost, and invaluable. Then, all of a sudden, a perfect stranger simply waves at her and smiles.
She quotes, “A simple smile is the most inexpensive random act of kindness you can give – it could even change a life.”
If you are reading this, I encourage you to start smiling at people passing by more often. I’m not talking about full-on teeth-y, gummy smile…just a soft smile that is enough to show someone that you acknowledge their presence and hope they are having a good day. Chances are, you will even get a smile back! If you are in an elevator with someone, ask them simply “How are you today?” Show people you care, and they will show it right back.
Lifting the stigma and connecting with one another starts with you! It starts with each one of us, individually. Let’s radiate positivity today! ♥ After all, everyone smiles in the same language.