Archives for posts with tag: mental illness

According to the American Heart Association, in 2016 over 28 million U.S. adults were diagnosed with heart disease. Approximately every 40 seconds an American will have a heart attack. The estimated annual incidence of heart attacks in the United States is 720,000 new attacks and 335,000 recurrent attacks.

A report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Center for Health Statistics shows that about 1 of 3 U.S. adults—or about 75 million people—have high blood pressure. The number of hypertension-related deaths increased 61.8%, from 2000 to 2013.

There were more than 360,000 American deaths in 2013 that included high blood pressure as a primary or contributing cause. That is almost 1,000 deaths each day.

In 2018, it was predicted that an estimated 1,735,350 new cases of cancer would be diagnosed in the United States and 609,640 people would die from the disease.

You probably have heard these or similar statistics but perhaps the following is news to you.

The U.S. Census Bureau estimates the total population at 328,456,820 people, with 77.1 percent (252,911,751) of those people being over 18. The American Psychiatric Association says that depression affects an estimated 1 in 15 adults (16,860,783) in any given year. And one in six people (54,742,803) will experience depression at some time in their life.

Is it just me or do we not hear as much about depression than other health issues? Am I just imagining that mental health concerns are often mentioned in a whisper but physical health matters are spoken of openly?

The American Psychiatric Association tells us that “depression (major depressive disorder) is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act.” Depression causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed. It can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and can decrease a person’s ability to function at work and at home. Fortunately, it is also treatable.

Depression is not “rainy days and Mondays” and hugs and positive thoughts are not enough to overcome it. One person who has had multiple bouts of depression said, “There does not have to be a hell after life, I’ve already experienced it.”

The Mayo Clinic says depression is “more than just a bout of the blues, depression isn’t a weakness and you can’t simply ‘snap out’ of it. Depression may require long-term treatment.”

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) identifies depression as one of the most common mental disorders in the U.S. and “current research suggests that depression is caused by a combination of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors” and it can happen at any age.

“The (worst) thing about depression: A human being can survive almost anything, as long as she sees the end in sight. But depression is so insidious, and it compounds daily, that it’s impossible to ever see the end. The fog is like a cage without a key. (Elizabeth Wurtzel)

Medical professionals recognize that depression “is not a passing blue mood, which almost everyone experiences from time to time, but a complex mind/body illness that interferes with everyday functioning. … It alters the structure and function of nerve cells so that it disrupts the way the brain processes information and interprets experience. Despite feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness, depression is a treatable condition” (Psychology Today). Most people with depression feel better with medication, psychotherapy or both.

While health professionals acknowledge that depression is common among Americans, the biggest obstacle to treatment is the stigma that often is associated with any form of mental illness. I encourage you to learn more about depression and other mental illnesses and discover how you can be a part of the healing process.

Jamie Jenkins

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He was sitting in his car outside a CVS waiting for his wife who was inside shopping. He was a successful and generous businessman. He was not in a “bad” neighborhood. He was not involved in any questionable activity. Just waiting for his wife to finish shopping. Then someone shot him and killed him.

A 7 year-old girl was riding in a car driven by her mother. She was still in her pajamas along with her three sisters on a quick run to get coffee on Sunday morning. They were stopped at a red light near a Walmart and someone pulled up next to their car, started shooting and Jazmine Barnes was killed. Just days before the second grader was in the holiday program at her school. Officials say it was a case of mistaken identity.

Several young adults sat around a bonfire together on a cool fall evening. Later that night two of them came back and killed four of the people in the house. They had done nothing to provoke or anger anyone. It seems that the two just came back “to rob and kill.”

After a house fire, a 67 year-old man and a 65 year-old woman were found dead in their home. Fire officials said that the fire was intentionally set. It was later determinded that the married couple had been strangled. Their son has been arrested and charged with murdering his parents.

It’s a normal day at school and then a nightmare. A crowd is enjoying a night of musical entertainment and then shots from a hotel room high above the venue and dozens die. A young man is on his way home from a Braves game when someone cuts him off on the freeway. The two drivers argue as they continue to drive. This encounter ends when one of the men shoots and kills the other. A young girl is in her bed at night when someone kills her parents and kidnaps her.

These are just a few examples of daily occurrences in communities and neighborhoods all across America. What has happened to the value of a human life?

Former President Bill Clinton said, “…each bloodletting hastens the next, and as the value of human life is degraded and violence becomes tolerated, the unimaginable becomes more conceivable.” Have we come to the place in our society where we have come to expect that which was once unimaginable? Has the worth of a person become so small that we see others as dispensable?

Abhijit Naskar is one of the world’s celebrated neuroscientists, an international bestselling author and untiring advocate of mental wellness and global harmony. He suggests that “Human progress isn’t measured by industry, it’s measured by the value you put on a life.” If that is the case, we have not progressed very far.

Rabbi Yanki Tauber says that unless this “trend is halted and reversed…before long, we will be deep in the barbaric woods where everything is relative, where the right to life is entirely relative to power, wealth and physical strength. For unless life has absolute value, it ultimately has no value. And unless we accord absolute moral significance to our actions, they are ultimately of no moral significance, and before long, we’re deep in the jungle.”

The Apostle Paul affirms that God “gives to all life, and breath, and all things” (Acts 17:25). It is thus clear that Scripture regards life as a gift from Heaven. If human life is a gift from God, then it is a sacred essence, and no person has the arbitrary right to take it from another or to destroy it within himself.

God help us to value life as a divine gift and end this move toward absolute destruction.

Jamie Jenkins

 

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Americans are very health conscious. Regularly we see and hear reports about obesity, heart disease, and cancer. There is much concern currently over the flu virus that has swept the country.

Medical professionals are constantly cautioning us about one thing or another. A lot of emphasis is placed on certain medical tests, methods of disease prevention, or proper diet and exercise. Strong public campaigns abound for breast cancer awareness, prostate screening, flu shots, and other health related concerns.

It is important that we properly care for our bodies but we need to pay attention to more than our physical wellbeing. Humans are complex creatures and wellness involves a balance of physical, spiritual and mental health.

Churches, synagogues, and other religious organizations emphasize spiritual health and the practice of spiritual disciplines such as personal and corporate worship, Bible study, and service to others. There is an abundance of programs and initiatives to develop strong spiritual beings.

While physical and spiritual (or at least religious) health is a priority in our culture, we fail to focus  as much energy and attention on mental health. We talk about the value of exercise and positive thinking to our mental health but little attention is given, and even less conversation, about depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses.

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Statistics indicate that 1 in 4 Americans experience mental illness every year. Mental health expert and researcher Dr. John Grohol believes that is more likely 1 in 3. That means that 75 million people in the United States experience some form of mental disorder  annually. The National Alliance of Mental Illness indicates that about 14 million adults live with a serious mental illness such as schizophrenia, major depression or bipolar disorder.

In 2011 the World Health Organization reported that mental illness — that is, any mental disorder — accounts for more disability in developed countries than any other group of illnesses, including cancer and heart disease. Yet all we hear people talk about in the media is reducing your risk of these health problems. We rarely hear anyone talk about anxiety or depression.

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According to the U. S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention,

  • Serious mental illness costs America $193.2 billion in lost earnings per year.
  • Mood disorders such as depression are the third most common cause of hospitalization in the U.S. for both youth and adults ages 18 to 44.
  • Adults living with serious mental illness die on average 25 years earlier than other Americans, largely due to treatable medical conditions.
  • Over 50 percent of students with a mental health condition age 14 and older who are served by special education drop out− the highest dropout rate of any disability group.
  • Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the U.S. (more common than homicide) and the third leading cause of death for ages 15 to 24 years.

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Efforts to address this significant public health issue are complicated by the  fact that there is a stigma associated with mental illness and experts claim it prevents many people from seeking help. Therefore “people coping with mental illness have a lot more to deal with than just the disorder itself. Many people report that the stigma of mental illness, and the prejudices they encounter because of it, is nearly as bad as the disorder’s symptoms themselves.” (www.healthyplace.com)

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What stigma? The following scenario may help answer the question. Imagine that you have breast cancer. Now imagine that instead of NFL football players supporting your illness by wearing sneakers with pink cleats and pink logos on their jerseys, society blames you for your illness. Imagine others looking at you with accusing eyes and whispering about you behind your back when they find out you have breast cancer. Imagine feeling fearful of seeking proper medical help because you’re afraid you’ll lose your job if anyone finds out about it.

People with mental disorders must cope with this type of stigma on a daily basis. But why should they? Mental illness is a disease just like cancer. No one wants to develop cancer. No one wants to deal with mental illness either.

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Former president Bill Clinton said, “Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of, but stigma and bias shame us all.”  God help us to destroy the stigma by addressing mental illness with compassion and working to find cures.

Jamie Jenkins