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Mental Health = Medical Health

  • Category: General Health
  • Posted On:
  • Written By: Matt Gougler

Many people are under the misguided notion that mental health issues are not medical issues. Nothing could be further from the truth. May is Mental Health Month, and ATRIO Health Plans is working to increase awareness that mental health conditions are a medical problem and many individuals are impacted. In fact, approximately:

  • One in five American adults—which equates to more than 43-million people--experiences mental illness in a given year.
  • One in 25 U.S. adults - some 10-million people —experiences a serious mental illness in a given year.
  • More than 18 percent of adults nationwide have suffered from an anxiety disorder such as posttraumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder or specific phobias.
  • One in five youth ages13 through18 experiences a severe mental disorder at some point during their life. For children ages 8 to 15, the estimate is 13 percent.

In light of the prevalence of mental health conditions, it’s disturbing to learn that only 41 percent of those experiencing a mental health disorder receive professional help. This is particularly alarming because mental health conditions are absolutely treatable, and the vast majority of those who receive therapeutic care are able to manage their symptoms and pursue productive, quality lives.

Spotting Potential Symptoms

The key to managing mental health challenges is recognizing symptoms and seeking treatment. In adults, symptoms often surface in the workplace, including:

  • working slowly;
  • missing deadlines;
  • calling in sick frequently;
  • arriving late to work on many days;
  • leaving work early and without explanation;
  • exhibiting a short temper and irritability;
  • struggling to concentrate or make decisions;
  • working excessive hours over a prolonged period;
  • appearing numb or emotionless;
  • avoiding interaction with coworkers;
  • making mistakes frequently and being disorganized.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, more general signs of mental illness in adults and adolescents can include:

  • excessive worrying or fearfulness;
  • feeling tremendous sadness or hopelessness;
  • confused thinking or problems concentrating;
  • extreme mood changes;
  • frequent irritability or anger;
  • avoiding friends and social activities;
  • changes in sleeping habits—sleeping for prolonged periods or inability to sleep;
  • altered eating habits, such as increased hunger or lack of appetite;
  • experiencing delusions or hallucinations;
  • abuse of substances like alcohol or drugs;
  • physical ailments without obvious causes, such as headaches or upset stomach;
  • suicidal thoughts;
  • inability to navigate daily activities or handle routine problems and stress.

Mental health conditions also can emerge in childhood. Symptoms in youngsters are generally behavioral in nature and may include:

  • changes in school performance;
  • excessive worry or anxiety that may present in the form of avoiding going to bed or school;
  • hyperactive behavior;
  • frequent nightmares;
  • disobedience or aggression;
  • temper tantrums.

When to Seek Help

According to the American Psychiatric Association, one or two symptoms aren't necessarily indicative of a mental health problem. However, if someone is experiencing several symptoms and their ability to navigate daily life is negatively impacted, seeking the help of a mental health professional is highly recommended. For those who are expressing suicidal thoughts or who are physically harming themselves or others, immediate medical attention must be sought.