Everyone Has Anxiety – The Facts and Numbers on Mental Health

Total Family Care Team

Today we can’t seem to escape some level of anxiety or stress in our daily lives.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month.  A topic that can be uncomfortable for many.

As parents we are pulled and tugged in multiple directions.  Parents are tending to growing families, commitments with community, school and sports activities for the children.  Adding in professional lives, social and economic pressures, at times, it can seem quite overwhelming.

As a pediatric practice we care about the entire family.  Previously, Dr. Lightman wrote a straight forward blog to the Mom’s in our practice and community. This blog Mom’s and Self Care was one of our most talked about blogs – so we are aware this is a relevant topic.

Now let’s take a breath and focus on our children.

If parents are feeling a little anxious then in most cases so are our children. Children are much more anxious today than 30 years ago. It is normal to for our children to have some level of nervousness and anxiety – that is a normal part of a child’s development.

Some fears are built into the cycle of life.  Normal development includes the stranger anxiety phase which usually sets in at about 7 months of life when your baby recognizes familiar faces like Mom and Dad, and then avoids the unfamiliar.  As healthy attachment to parents grows, separation anxiety, as manifested through crying and sadness emerges, and then improves over the next several years.  Generally, most children are past this stage by the end of kindergarten.

In a previous article, LIONS AND TIGERS AND BEARS, OH MY – When did our children become so anxious?   Dr. Lightman talks about what to look for, signs, in your child and tips on how to address concerns and talk with your child.

Prevalence of Mental Illness in America – The Raw Numbers

  • Approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S.—43.8 million, or 18.5%—experiences mental illness in a given year
  • Approximately 1 in 25 adults in the U.S.—9.8 million, or 4.0%—experiences a serious mental illness in a given year that substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities
  • Approximately 1 in 5 youth aged 13–18 (21.4%) experiences a severe mental disorder at some point during their life. For children aged 8–15, the estimate is 13%
  • 1% of adults in the U.S. live with schizophrenia
  • 6% of adults in the U.S. live with bipolar disorder
  • 9% of adults in the U.S.—16 million—had at least one major depressive episode in the past year
  • 1% of adults in the U.S. experienced an anxiety disorder such as posttraumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and specific phobias
  • Among the 20.2 million adults in the U.S. who experienced a substance use disorder, 50.5%—10.2 million adults—had a co-occurring mental illness

The facts are astounding.

The good news.  With awareness change happens.   That is what many organizations from OHELO to NAMI and many other non profit local organizations are providing for children, teens and adults.

Dr. Lightman had the pleasure of being a part of a video series with OHELO Children’s Home and Family Services.   A campaign called Sign of Strength which is at the forefront of changing the stigma on mental health with sharing stories.

Ohelo’s mission is to have a safe haven for support, providing services that help build lives and strengthen families, homes, and communities that face social, developmental and emotional challenges.

Click on the image to watch the video.

What about our adolescents and teens?   

Teen depression is a serious mental health problem that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest in activities. It affects how your teenager thinks, feels and behaves, and it can cause emotional, functional and physical problems. Although depression can occur at any time in life, symptoms may be different between teens and adults.

Issues such as peer pressure, academic expectations and changing bodies can bring a lot of ups and downs for teens. But for some teens, the lows are more than just temporary feelings — they’re a symptom of depression.

Teen depression isn’t a weakness or something that can be overcome with willpower — it can have serious consequences.  Teen depression signs and symptoms include a change from the teenager’s previous attitude and behavior that can cause significant distress and problems at school or home, in social activities or other areas of life.   More information on signs, symptoms, when to contact your doctor please read more here.

Parents, if you feel your child or teen might be having difficulty navigating daily routines don’t wait to get help.  Talk to your pediatrician or health care provider or school nurse.   Share your concerns with a parent, a close friend, a spiritual leader, a teacher or someone else you trust.

Let’s break the stigma on mental health.   You may also refer to a recent article for Parents to Know the Signs of Bullying.

We are all human.  We were not made to be perfect.

Total Family Care is here for you.

As always daven.

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