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Why We're Doing It

Mental Illness Awareness

The need for information about mental illness is important because misinformation and stereotypes (ie, "just get over it") continues to feed stigma and appropriate treatment is often not sought because of it or lack of knowledge.


Stigma creates a social barrier for those living with a mental illness, increasing isolation and decreasing quality of life. Research shows that as stigma decreases, people are more likely to engage mental health resources and find appropriate help, and that putting a human face on these illness helps to combat stigma.


The numbers are staggering…


When compared with all other disease, including cancer and heart disease, mental illness ranks 1st in causing disability in the United States.


One in five adults and adolescents experience a mental illness in a given year.  That is 26.2% of the population, or 61.5 million people.


Mental illnesses are not the result of personal weakness, lack of character or poor upbringing. They are biologically-based and profoundly disrupt a person’s ability to think, feel, and relate to others and their environment.


Types of mental illnesses include schizophrenia; major depression; bipolar, schizoaffective, obsessive-compulsive, borderline personality, eating and posttraumatic stress disorders.


Schizophrenia afflicts approximately 1% of the population of all societies in the world.  That is 1 out of 100 people around the earth.


One-half of all chronic mental illness begins by the age of 14; three-quarters by age 24. Despite effective treatment, there are long delays between the first appearance of symptoms and when people get help.  


A comprehensive survey reported two-thirds of people with serious mental illness are unemployed, over half live on less than $10,000 a year, and 44% have been detained or arrested for minor offenses.


58% of New Mexicans in substance abuse treatment also have a co-occurring mental health disorder. 


In New Mexico, 2013, suicide was the second leading cause of death in youth 10-24 years of age. 90% of those who died by suicide had an underlying mental illness.


The majority of people who have a mental illness are no more violent than someone suffering from cancer, diabetes, or any other serious illness.  They are far more often victims of violence.


There are more people with mental illness in American jails, prisons and juvenile detention centers than in institutions or hospitals.


Less than 40% of Americans with serious mental illness receive stable treatment.