and Stats about Mental Illness,
Alcohol and Drug Addiction and Suicide
| Frequently Asked Questions About Mental Health |
| A Little More About Mental Illness |
| Frequently Asked Questions About Alcohol & Other Drug Addictions |
| Myths and Facts about Drug and Alcohol Addiction |
| Frequently Asked Questions About Suicide |
Asked Questions About Mental Health
* What is
is how you feel about yourself, others, your life and how you are able to meet
and handle the demands of life. Mental health is not the absence of problems.
Rather, it describes the ability of the person to be flexible and resilient and
able to address the problems with appropriate coping skills.
is a Mental Illness?
illnesses are biologically based brain disorders that can profoundly disrupt a
person’s thinking, feeling, moods, ability to relate to others, and capacity
for coping with the demands of life. Mental illnesses include disorders such as
schizophrenia, major depressive disorder, and bipolar disorder.
* Who is Susceptible
to Mental Illness?
Anyone may be
susceptible to a mental illness. Psychiatric problems affect people of all
ages, all income groups, all ethnic groups, all religious groups, urban and
rural, male and female. No one is immune to a mental illness.
Mental Illness a Rare Disorder?
Disorders affect one-quarter of all Americans. On any given day one out of
every four people you pass may be experiencing a mental illness. By this count
more than 2 million of Ohio’s 11 Million citizens experience some form of
mental disorder including 200,000 children.
Causes Mental Illness?
that mental illnesses are biological based diseases of the brain. Genetics can
play a part, but people can develop a mental illness with no family history of
mental illness. Others may be emotional or psychological reactions to
environmental or social situations. Some of these disorders may be temporary,
caused by extreme stress or life change.
There Warning Signs for Mental Illness?
The Ten Warning Signs
1. Marked personality change
2. Inability to cope with problems and daily activities
3. Strange or grandiose ideas
4. Excessive fears, worries and anxieties
5. Prolonged depression, apathy, sadness or irritability
6. Feelings of extreme highs and lows
7. Dramatic changes in eating or sleeping habits
8. Excessive anger, hostility or violent behavior
9. Abuse of alcohol or drugs
10. And thinking or talking about suicide
* Do People
Recover From a Mental Illness?
Works…People Recover! Advancements in medications are continually improving the
recovery rate of individuals with a mental illness. Additionally in the past
two decades the recovery movement has blossomed, while treatment and support
services for mental illness have improved significantly. More and more people
are receiving treatments that allow them to recover and lead healthy,
successful, and independent lives.
* What is
Technical Assistance Center’s Mental Health Recovery: What Helps and What
Hinders? report defines recovery as, “an ongoing dynamic interactional process
that occurs between a person’s strengths, vulnerabilities, resources and the
environment. It involves a personal journey of actively self-managing a
psychiatric disorder while reclaiming, gaining, and maintaining a positive
sense of self, roles and life beyond the mental health system, in spite of the
challenge of a psychiatric disability. Recovery involves learning to approach
each day’s challenges, to overcome disabilities, to live independently and to
contribute to society. Recovery is supported by a foundation based on hope,
belief, personal power, respect, connections and self-determination”.
are the Recovery Rates With Treatment?
Bipolar Disorder –
Major Depression – 70%
Panic Disorder – 70%
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder – 70%
Schizophrenia – 60%
Mental illnesses are
medical conditions that disrupt a person's thinking, feeling, mood, ability to
relate to others and daily functioning. Just as diabetes is a disorder of the
pancreas, mental illnesses are medical conditions that often result in a
diminished capacity for coping with the ordinary demands of life.
illnesses include major depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, obsessive
compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, post traumatic stress disorder
(PTSD) and borderline personality disorder. The good news about mental illness
is that recovery is possible.
Mental illnesses can
affect persons of any age, race, religion, or income. Mental illnesses are not
the result of personal weakness, lack of character or poor upbringing. Mental
illnesses are treatable. Most people diagnosed with a serious mental illness
can experience relief from their symptoms by actively participating in an
individual treatment plan.
In addition to
medication treatment, psychosocial treatment such as cognitive behavioral
therapy, interpersonal therapy, peer support groups and other community
services can also be components of a treatment plan and that assist with
recovery. The availability of transportation, diet, exercise, sleep, friends
and meaningful paid or volunteer activities contribute to overall health and
wellness, including mental illness recovery.
are some important facts about mental illness and recovery:
- Mental illnesses are serious
medical illnesses. They cannot be overcome through "will power"
and are not related to a person's "character" or intelligence.
Mental illness falls along a continuum of severity. Even though mental
illness is widespread in the population, the main burden of illness is
concentrated in a much smaller proportion-about 6 percent, or 1 in 17
Americans-who live with a serious mental illness. The National Institute
of Mental Health reports that One in four adults — approximately 57.7
million Americans — experiences a mental health disorder in a given year.
- The U.S. Surgeon General reports
that 10 percent of children and adolescents in the United States suffer
from serious emotional and mental disorders that cause significant
functional impairment in their day-to-day lives at home, in school and
- The World Health Organization has
reported that four of the 10 leading causes of disability in the US and
other developed countries are mental disorders. By 2020, major depressive
illness will be the leading cause of disability in the world for women and
- Mental illness usually strikes
individuals in the prime of their lives, often during adolescence and
young adulthood. All ages are susceptible, but the young and the old are
- Without treatment the consequences
of mental illness for the individual and society are staggering:
unnecessary disability, unemployment, substance abuse, homelessness,
inappropriate incarceration, suicide and wasted lives; The economic cost
of untreated mental illness is more than 100 billion dollars each year in
the United States.
- The best treatments for serious
mental illnesses today are highly effective; between 70 and 90 percent of
individuals have significant reduction of symptoms and improved quality of
life with a combination of pharmacological and psychosocial treatments and
- With appropriate effective medication
and a wide range of services tailored to their needs, most people who live
with serious mental illnesses can significantly reduce the impact of their
illness and find a satisfying measure of achievement and independence. A
key concept is to develop expertise in developing strategies to manage the
- Early identification and treatment
is of vital importance; By ensuring access to the treatment and recovery
supports that are proven effective, recovery is accelerated and the
further harm related to the course of illness is minimized.
- Stigma erodes confidence that
mental disorders are real, treatable health conditions. We have allowed
stigma and a now unwarranted sense of hopelessness to erect attitudinal,
structural and financial barriers to effective treatment and recovery. It
is time to take these barriers down.
(Source: NAMI, 2010)
Mental disorders are
common in the United States and internationally. An estimated 26.2 percent of
Americans ages 18 and older — about one in four adults — suffer from a
diagnosable mental disorder in a given year. When applied to the 2004 U.S.
Census residential population estimate for ages 18 and older, this figure
translates to 57.7 million people. Even though mental disorders are widespread
in the population, the main burden of illness is concentrated in a much smaller
proportion — about 6 percent, or 1 in 17 — who suffer from a serious mental
illness. In addition, mental disorders are the leading cause of disability in
the U.S. and Canada for ages 15–44. Many people suffer from more than one
mental disorder at a given time. Nearly half (45 percent) of those with any
mental disorder meet criteria for two or more disorders, with severity strongly
related to co-morbidity.
Little More About Mental Illness…
illnesses are biologically based brain disorders.
One out of five
people in America has a mental illness (more than 2 million Ohioans), yet
less than one-third of affected adults and one-half of children receive
treatment. Mental illnesses are biologically based brain disorders. They cannot
be overcome through willpower and are not related to a person's character or
intelligence. They are medical conditions that disrupt a person’s thinking,
feeling, mood, daily functioning and ability to relate to others. People
affected can be of any age, race, religion or income.
The Global Burden of
Disease study, conducted by the World Health Organization, the World Bank and
Harvard University, reported that mental illness is second only to cardiovascular
disease in regard to burden (i.e., years of life lost to premature death or
disability). The cost of leaving mental illnesses untreated is immense;
however, issues of mental health and wellness are erupting in every
arena. They are connected to the promise of our youth, the productivity
of our workforce, the well-being of our elders, the justice in our courts and
the fabric of our families.
When mental health
services are inaccessible to those in need, the impact is felt in all areas of
Ohio’s economy and society:
- Missed educational opportunities.
and failure in school (58 percent of children with mental illness do not
graduate from high school.)
- Lost productivity and unemployment.
(Employees who are depressed are twice as likely to miss work and seven
times more likely to be less productive on the job. Yet, treatment for
clinical depression has a high success rate.)
- Increased crime and incarceration.
(More than half of Ohio’s inmates have some type of mental illness; 12
percent are diagnosed with a severe mental illness. Most youth in juvenile
justice facilities have a diagnosable mental disorder.)
- Inappropriate use of hospital
emergency departments. (Comprehensive community-based mental health
services can cut public hospital admissions and lengths of stay.)
- Premature death, including suicide.
(In Ohio, more than 1,300 lives are lost to suicide each year.)
the consequences of mental illness for the individual and society are
staggering: unnecessary disability, unemployment, substance abuse, homelessness,
inappropriate incarceration and wasted lives. The economic cost of untreated
mental illness is more than $100 billion each year in the United States.
The good news about
mental illness is that recovery is possible. Early identification and treatment
is of vital importance. Most people diagnosed with a serious mental illness can
experience relief from their symptoms by actively participating in an
individual treatment plan.
Society stands to
gain from making the same commitment to mental health treatment that it makes
to other medical conditions. Recovery and resiliency enable adults and children
with serious mental illness to recover and live, work and participate fully in
Questions About Alcohol & Other Drug Addictions
* What Causes
Addiction to Alcohol and Other Drugs?
Contrary to popular
belief, addiction is NOT a moral or character defect. In fact, it is a complex
brain disease. It is a chronic disease characterized by craving, seeking, and
use that can persist even in the face of extremely negative consequences.
Alcohol/drug-seeking may become compulsive in large part as a result of the
effects of prolonged use on brain functioning and, thus, on behavior. For many
people, relapses are possible even after long periods of abstinence.
Addiction to Alcohol and Other Drugs More Prevalent In Certain Groups of
No, anyone may become
addicted to alcohol and/or other drugs. Addictions affect people of all ages,
all income groups, all ethnic groups, all religious groups, urban and rural,
male and female. No one is immune to an addiction.
Many Ohioans are Affected by Addiction?
It is estimated
that over 1.1 million or one in 10 Ohioans are addicted to alcohol and/or other
Much Does It Cost Ohio When Addiction Goes Untreated?
It has been
estimated that every year addiction costs Ohio as much as $10 billion in terms
of lost work productivity, injuries on the job, hospitalization and primary health
care, traffic accidents, court hearings, incarceration, cash assistance to
adults too impaired to work or hold a job and removal of children from addicted
* What Is the
Difference Between Addiction and Abuse?
Drug or alcohol
addiction is a diagnosable disease characterized by several factors including a
strong craving for drugs/alcohol, continued use despite harm or personal
injury, the inability to limit drug use/drinking, physical illness when using
stops, and the need to increase the amount used in order to feel the effects. Abuse
is a pattern of drug use/drinking that result in harm to one’s health,
interpersonal relationships or ability to work. Certain manifestations of abuse
include failure to fulfill responsibilities at work, school or home;
using/drinking in dangerous situations such as while driving; legal problems
associated with drug/alcohol use, and continued use despite problems that are
caused or worsened by drug use/drinking. Abuse can lead to addiction.
* Is It Okay To
Drink When Pregnant?
No, there is no
safe level of alcohol use during pregnancy. Women who are pregnant or plan on
becoming pregnant should refrain from drinking alcohol. Several conditions
including Fetal Alcohol Syndrome have been linked to alcohol use during
pregnancy. Women of child-bearing age should also avoid binge drinking to
reduce the risk of unintended pregnancy and potential exposure of a developing
fetus to alcohol.
Quickly Can I Become Addicted to a Drug?
There is no easy
answer to this. If and how quickly you might become addicted to a drug depends
on many factors including the biology of your body. All drugs are potentially
harmful and may have life-threatening consequences associated with their abuse.
There are also vast differences among individuals in sensitivity to various
drugs. While one person may use a drug one or many times and suffer no ill
effects, another person may be particularly vulnerable and overdose with first
use. There is no way of knowing in advance how someone may react.
* How Do
I Know if I Have a Substance Abuse Problem?
Drugs/alcohol is a
problem if it causes trouble in your relationships, in school, in social
activities, or in how you think and feel. If you are concerned that either you
or someone in your family might have a substance problem, consult your personal
* How Do
I Know if Someone Else is Addicted to Alcohol/Drugs?
If a person is
compulsively seeking and using alcohol/drugs despite negative consequences,
such as loss of job, debt, physical problems brought on by drug abuse, or
family problems, then he or she probably is addicted. Seek professional help to
determine if this is the case and, if so, work to get that person into the
How Many People with Addiction Actually Seek Treatment?
25 percent of individuals needing treatment will actually seek it. The widespread
societal stigma attached to addiction is cited as the major reason why people
do not seek treatment.
Treatment Really Work?
Yes, research shows
that the success rates for addiction treatment are equal to the success rates
for other chronic illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension and asthma.
Approximately 40–60 percent of individuals who complete chemical dependency
treatment and attend self-help groups (such as Alcoholics Anonymous) are likely
to remain abstinent from alcohol or other drugs.
and Facts about Drug and Alcohol Addiction
forming an opinion about someone with substance use problems, consider these
“Substance users have a moral defect.”
"Alcoholics and drug users don’t
want to quit—if they did, they would just stop using.”
"Locking up all the substance
abusers will solve the problem.”
These and many other pervasive myths
regarding substance abuse actually contribute to the addiction problem. The
stigma associated with substance abuse discourages treatment for addiction and
limits opportunities for work, housing and social relationships. Although
substance abuse has a profound, negative impact on society, it is not an
insurmountable problem. Become part of the solution by helping to eliminate
Most American families have been
affected in some way by a loved one with problems involving drugs or alcohol.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
(SAMHSA) National Survey on Drug Use & Health, 20.1 million Americans aged
12 or older reported they had used an illicit drug during the month prior to
the interview survey.
Unfortunately, many people who have
problems with substance use will encounter stigma that prevents them from
integrating back into society. Police, the legal system, emergency room
personnel and even family members and friends can perpetuate stigma, and stigma
limits the attention and resources dedicated to solving problems associated
with substance use. “Stigma is about discrimination,” says Ivette Torres,
director of consumer affairs for SAMHSA’s Center for Substance Abuse Treatment.
SEPARATING MYTH FROM FACT
Stigma arises from the myths
surrounding substance abuse. Before forming an opinion about someone with
substance use problems, consider these common myths:
Substance users have a moral defect—they could just will themselves to stop
using if they wanted to quit.
Fact: One common and false stereotype about people with
substance use problems is that they are all social misfits and outcasts.
“Stigma can also get at the idea that the person is weak of character or
untrustworthy,” explains Jim Beek, a SAMHSA information officer. In reality,
“normal” people deal with substance abuse issues, which can touch entire
families. Drug and alcohol dependence meet the criteria for treatable, chronic
medical conditions; dependence is not simply a matter of choice. “One of the
biggest and most pervasive myths is that … a user can stop using alcohol or
drugs by willing themselves to,” agrees Torres. “Society at large has to accept
addiction treatment and begin to look at it as a public health issue.”
Addiction is irreversible: Once an addict, always an addict.
Fact: Many people don’t realize how effective programs and
services can be in treating substance abuse. In fact, drug addiction treatment
works as well as established medical treatments for other illnesses such as
diabetes and asthma, the Physician Leadership on National Drug Policy reported
in 1998. Another study found that for every dollar invested in treatment,
taxpayers saved $7 in future costs, according to the National Institute on Drug
Unfortunately, the shame associated
with being labeled or viewed negatively by others can keep people from seeking
treatment. “Stigma is a factor,” Torres notes. “That’s why you see so many
individuals speaking out, saying, ‘Recovery is possible. I am an example of
that.’’’ And fortunately, new options, such as the prescription addiction
treatment drug buprenorphine, can help eliminate the stigma associated with
lining up outside a clinic.
Harsher criminal penalties for using drugs or increasing efforts to cut off
the drug supply will solve the problem.
Fact: This common wisdom is at odds with research showing the
effectiveness of treatment. And, keep in mind that there is no “silver bullet”
when it comes to solving substance use problems. While a combination of factors
such as treatment, parental influence and education programs can help, taken
alone, “get tough” approaches don’t address the underlying social and family
issues associated with substance abuse.
Although perceptions about people with
substance use problems and treatments have improved, we still have a long way
to go toward effectively addressing these issues. You can help by confronting
your own attitudes. If you know someone who may have a substance use problem,
treat him with concern, dignity and respect. Rather than turning your back or
getting angry, offer your support.
Source: 2003, Achieve
Questions About Suicide
* What should
you do if someone tells you they are thinking about suicide?
tells you they are thinking about suicide, you should take their distress
seriously, listen non-judgmentally, and help them get to a professional for
evaluation and treatment. People consider suicide when they are hopeless and
unable to see alternative solutions to problems. Suicidal behavior is most
often related to a mental disorder (depression) or to alcohol or other
substance abuse. Suicidal behavior is also more likely to occur when people
experience stressful events (major losses, incarceration). If someone is in
imminent danger of harming himself or herself, do not leave the person alone.
You may need to take emergency steps to get help, such as calling 911. When
someone is in a suicidal crisis, it is important to limit access to firearms or
other lethal means of committing suicide.
* Who has a
higher suicide rate men or women?
More than four times
as many men as women die by suicide; but women attempt suicide more often
during their lives than do men, and women report higher rates of depression.
Men and women use different suicide methods. Women in all countries are more
likely to ingest poisons than men. In countries where the poisons are highly
lethal and/or where treatment resources scarce, rescue is rare and hence female
suicides outnumber males.
* Who is
at highest risk for suicide in the U.S.?
There is a
common perception that suicide rates are highest among the young. However, it
is the elderly, particularly older white males that have the highest rates. And
among white males 65 and older, risk goes up with age. White men 85 and older
have a suicide rate that is six times that of the overall national rate. Some
older persons are less likely to survive attempts because they are less likely
to recuperate. Over 70 percent of older suicide victims have been to their
primary care physician within the month of their death, many did not tell their
doctors they were depressed nor did the doctor detect it. This has led to
research efforts to determine how to best improve physicians’ abilities to
detect and treat depression in older adults.
depression increase the risk for suicide?
majority of people who have depression do not die by suicide, having major
depression does increase suicide risk compared to people without depression.
The risk of death by suicide may, in part, be related to the severity of the
depression. New data on depression that has followed people over long periods
of time suggests that about 2 percent of those people ever treated for
depression in an outpatient setting will die by suicide. Among those ever
treated for depression in an inpatient hospital setting, the rate of death by
suicide is twice as high (4 percent). Those treated for depression as
inpatients following suicide ideation or suicide attempts are about three times
as likely to die by suicide (6 percent) as those who were only treated as
outpatients. There are also dramatic gender differences in lifetime risk of
suicide in depression. Whereas about 7 percent of men with a lifetime history
of depression will die by suicide, only 1 percent of women with a lifetime
history of depression will die by suicide.
about thinking of suicide risk and depression is to examine the lives of people
who have died by suicide and see what proportion of them were depressed. From
that perspective, it is estimated that about 60 percent of people who commit
suicide have had a mood disorder (e.g., major depression, bipolar disorder, dysthymia).
Younger persons who kill themselves often have a substance abuse disorder in
addition to being depressed.
* Does alcohol
and other drug abuse increase the risk for suicide?
A number of recent
national surveys have helped shed light on the relationship between alcohol and
other drug use and suicidal behavior. A review of minimum-age drinking laws and
suicides among youths aged 18 to 20 found that lower minimum-age drinking laws
were associated with higher youth suicide rates. In a large study following
adults who drink alcohol, suicide ideation was reported among persons with
depression. In another survey, persons who reported that they had made a
suicide attempt during their lifetime were more likely to have had a depressive
disorder, and many also had an alcohol and/or substance abuse disorder. In a
study of all non-traffic injury deaths associated with alcohol intoxication,
over 20 percent were suicides.
In studies that
examine risk factors among people who have completed suicide, substance use and
abuse occurs more frequently among youth and adults, compared to older persons.
For particular groups at risk, such as American Indians and Alaskan Natives,
depression and alcohol use and abuse are the most common risk factors for
completed suicide. Alcohol and substance abuse problems contribute to suicidal
behavior in several ways. Persons who are dependent on substances often have a
number of other risk factors for suicide. In addition to being depressed, they
are also likely to have social and financial problems. Substance use and abuse
can be common among persons prone to be impulsive, and among persons who engage
in many types of high risk behaviors that result in self-harm. Fortunately,
there are a number of effective prevention efforts that reduce risk for
substance abuse in youth, and there are effective treatments for alcohol and
substance use problems. Researchers are currently testing treatments
specifically for persons with substance abuse problems who are also suicidal,
or have attempted suicide in the past.
* Is it
possible to predict suicide?
At the current
time there is no definitive measure to predict suicide or suicidal behavior.
Researchers have identified factors that place individuals at higher risk for
suicide, but very few persons with these risk factors will actually commit
suicide. Risk factors include mental illness, substance abuse, previous suicide
attempts, family history of suicide, history of being sexually abused, and
impulsive or aggressive tendencies. Suicide is a relatively rare event and it
is therefore difficult to predict which persons with these risk factors will
ultimately commit suicide.
would I know if someone I care about was contemplating suicide?
people will give warning signs, consciously or unconsciously, indicating that
they need help and often in the hope that they will be rescued. These usually
occur in clusters, so often several warning signs will be apparent. The
presence of one or more of these warning signs should not be taken as a
guarantee that the person is suicidal. The only way to know for sure is to ask
them. In other cases, a suicidal person may not want to be rescued, and may
avoid giving warning signs. Typical warning signs which are often exhibited by
people who are feeling suicidal include:
1) Withdrawing from friends and family
2) Depression, broadly speaking; not necessarily a diagnosable mental illness
such as clinical depression, but indicated by signs such as:
- Loss of interest in usual activities
- Showing signs of sadness, hopelessness, irritability
- Changes in appetite, weight, behavior, level of activity or sleep
- Loss of energy
- Making negative comments about self
- Recurring suicidal thoughts or fantasies
- Sudden change from extreme depression to being `at peace’ (may
indicate that they have decided to attempt suicide)
3) Talking, Writing or Hinting about suicide
4) Previous attempts
5) Feelings of hopelessness and helplessness
6) Purposefully putting personal affairs in order:
- Giving away possessions
- Sudden intense interest in personal wills or life insurance
- ‘Clearing the air’ over personal incidents from the past
Please note: This list is not
definitive. Some people may show no signs yet still feel suicidal; others may
show many signs yet be coping. The only way to know for sure is to ask. In
conjunction with the risk factors listed above, this list is intended to help
people identify others who may be in need of support.
If a person is
highly perturbed, has formed a potentially lethal plan to kill themselves and
has the means to carry it out immediately available, they would be considered
likely to attempt suicide.
If you are in crisis,
call the Suicide Crisis Line immediately at 330-452-6000. This is a 24-hour
service, seven days a week. For additional help or information please call the National
Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).