The month of May is Mental Health Awareness Month, (also referred to as "Mental Health Month”) and an ideal time to raise awareness about those struggling with mental health. Mental Health Awareness Month was started in the United States in 1949 by the Mental Health Americaorganization (then known as the National Association for Mental Health).

During the month of May, Mental Health America, its affiliates, and other organizations interested in mental health conduct a number of activities which are based on a different theme each year.

In 2019, Mental Health America is expanding upon last year’s theme of #4Mind4Bodyand taking it to the next level, as they explore the topics of animal companionship (including pets and support animals), spirituality, humor, work-life balance, and recreation and social connections as ways to boost mental health and general wellness.

The purpose for Mental Health Month is to raise awareness and educate the public about: mental illnesses, such as depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder; the realities of living with these conditions; and strategies for attaining mental health and wellness..

According to the CDC, in 2016, suicide, which can be precipitated by some mental illnesses, was the tenth leading cause of death in the United States. Suicide was also the second leading cause of death for people between the ages of 10 to 34.

Additionally, Mental Health Awareness Month strives to reduce the stigma (negative attitudes and misconceptions) that surrounds mental illnesses by encouraging open conversations as well as developing and implementing effective methods for treatment.

Nearly 450 million people worldwide are currently living with a mental illness, yet nearly two thirds of people with a known mental illness never seek treatment instead, they quietly battle mental health issues each year.

In an effort to clear up common misconceptions and promote increased awareness, below are 15 important facts about mental health.

We hope that these 15 facts will encourage you to discuss these issues with those you care about.

  1. One in five Americans has experienced some form of mental illness, with one in 25 experiencing serious mental illness, such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.
  2. Suicide accounts for over 800,000 deaths globally each year, with over 41,000in the U.S. alone. It is the second leading cause of death worldwide for 10-34 year olds.
  3. The rate of mental health disorders doubles for those who have been to war or lived through a major disaster.
  4. People with a mental health issue are generally nonviolent. In fact, only 3-5% of violent acts can be attributed to people with a serious mental illness.
  5. Many factors can lead to mental illness, including genetics, physical illness or injury, and traumatic life experiences.
  6. Many people do not seek treatment for mental illness due to the associated stigma. Only 44% of adults with diagnosable mental illnesses receive treatment.
  7. Treatment for mental health problems doesn’t only consist of prescribed or OTC medication. Therapy, yoga, meditation and holistic treatments can all help to assuage symptoms.
  8. By addressing risk factors such as trauma, it is possible to prevent certain mental health disorders, especially in children and adolescents.
  9. Improving mental health services in low- to medium-income countries is not as costly as some may think. An investment of only $2-4 per capita would have a major impact on millions of lives.
  10. Each year, serious mental illnesses cost the U.S. almost $200 billion in lost earnings.
  11. 50.5% of adults in the U.S. who have had a problem with substance abuse also suffer from mental illness.
  12. 20% of youth have a mental health condition, with one in 10 young people having experienced a period of major depression.
  13. Members of the LGBTQ community are twice as likely as straight individuals to have a mental health condition.
  14. 70-90% of people who seek proper treatment for mental health disorders witness a significant reduction in symptoms.
  15. Last but not least: most people living with mental illness lead productive lives despite their challenges.

When you or someone you love is dealing with a mental health concern, sometimes it’s a lot to handle. It’s important to remember that mental health is essential to everyone’s overall health and well-being, and mental illnesses are common and treatable.