May Is Mental Health Month!

As some of you may know, May is Mental Health Awareness Month; most likely you are seeing things on social media, hearing about it on the radio, etc.  Given the devastating health crisis of the past 18 months, it is more important than ever to be aware of mental health.  Unfortunately, many of us are on information overload and we tend to “tune out” this kind of information.  I’d like to ask you to take just a moment before you continue reading.  Get comfortable in your seat, take a deep breath.  Now, picture your tribe, your “people”.  Who comes to mind?  Your spouse?  Your special someone?  Your son or daughter?  Mom or Dad? Sibling? Best Friend? Your favorite work buddy?  Now, imagine the people you interact with outside of your close tribe:  your church family, your work, family, friends you hang out with, your hairdresser, the cashier at the grocery store, the guy at the hardware store.  With those folks in mind, take a look at mental health by the numbers ( 2019):


  • 6% of U.S. adults experienced mental illness in 2019 (51.5 million people). This represents 1 in 5 adults.
  • 2% of U.S. adults experienced serious mental illness in 2019 (13.1 million people). This represents 1 in 20 adults. The most common disorders include anxiety, depression, and posttraumatic stress disorder or PTSD.  Schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)  and borderline personality disorders are less common but impact approximately 13.5 million people.
  • 4% of U.S. adults with mental illness also experienced a substance use disorder in 2019 (9.5 million individuals)At least 8.4 million people in the U.S. provide care to an adult with a mental or emotional health issue
  • Caregivers of adults with mental or emotional health issues spend an average of 32 hours per week providing unpaid care
  • Mental illness and substance use disorders are involved in 1 out of every 8 emergency department visits by a U.S. adult (estimated 12 million visits)
  • Across the U.S. economy, serious mental illness causes $193.2 billion in lost earnings each year
  • 5% of people experiencing homelessness in the U.S. have a serious mental health condition
  • 37% of adults incarcerated in the state and federal prison system have a diagnosed mental illness
  • 4% of youth in the juvenile justice system have a diagnosed mental illness
  • 41% of Veteran’s Health Administration patients have a diagnosed mental illness or substance use disorder


These numbers do not represent faceless individuals, but us as individuals, our own families, communities, social circles and work environments.  Thankfully, there are many treatment options.  The National Alliance on Mental Health’s theme for May 2021 is “You Are Not Alone”.   Options include both outpatient and inpatient counseling with a licensed professional, medical interventions, community support, peer to peer support, and/or combinations of these options.  Successful treatment addresses the issues holistically and includes the individual’s family, friends, and supports.   The links below are good resources if you want to learn more about mental health and substance abuse issues:


Please contact us here at The Extension if you have questions about treatment options for you or a member of your tribe.


Tricia Roberts, MA, LPC, NCC