Mental illness is a medical condition, but it is often surrounded by stigma or stereotypes that prevent people from getting the help they need. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), 1 in 5 Americans lives with a mental health condition. And, approximately half of all lifetime cases of mental illness begin by the age of 14. Unfortunately, long delays − sometimes decades – often occur between the time symptoms first appear and when people get help. Early identification and treatment is critical, especially when mental illness can lead to suicide. More than 40,000 people die by suicide every year in the United States and 90% of those who commit suicide have an underlying mental health problem.
Mental health disorders can range from autism to schizophrenia to anxiety and more. Far too often, people are embarrassed or ashamed to discuss these conditions with friends or family, which can lead to lack of treatment. In fact, just over half of people in the United States with a serious mental illness receive treatment.