First Week Of October Is Mental Illness Awareness Week
By Kristin Finney
Greene Publishing, Inc.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, one in four adults in the United States suffer from a diagnosable mental illness. About 1 in 691 children will be born with Down Syndrome. October is a month dedicated to raising awareness for these two issues. The entire month of October is dedicated to Down Syndrome awareness, while the first week of October is dedicated to Mental Illness awareness.
There are many different types of Mental Illnesses and they effect nearly 25% of the population. They include autism, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, depression, Alzheimer’s, Asperger syndrome, Obsessive-compulsive disorder, physical abuse, perfectionism, psychotic disorder, sleep disorders, stuttering and many others.
There are over 400 different types of mental disorders and mental illnesses. What is included as a mental disorder or illness is officially decided by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders and the American Psychiatric Association.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness’s website shares some facts on Mental Illness. “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.”
“Serious mental 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.”
Down syndrome is a chromosomal condition that is caused by the presence an extra chromosome. There are normally 20 chromosomes in the human DNA, people with Down syndrome have a 21st chromosome. This disability is much more likely to occur when the parent is older than 35.
Some of the physical characteristics of Down syndrome include an abnormally small chin, almond shaped eyes caused by an epicanthic fold on the eyelid, shorter arms and legs, an oversized tongue and an unusually round face. Some cases also report having a single transverse palmar crease, which means they only have one crease in their palms, while most people have two.
The National Down Syndrome Society’s website says this of Down Syndrome, “People with Down Syndrome have an increased risk for certain medical conditions such as congenital heart defects, respiratory and hearing problems, Alzheimer’s disease, childhood leukemia, and thyroid conditions. However, many of these conditions are now treatable, so most people with Down syndrome lead healthy lives. Life expectancy for people with Down syndrome has increased dramatically in recent decades – from 25 in 1983 to 60 today.”
“People with Down syndrome experience cognitive delays, but the effect is usually mild to moderate and is not indicative of the many strengths and talents that each individual possesses. Children with Down syndrome learn to sit, walk, talk, play, and do most other activities; only somewhat later than their peers without Down syndrome.”
“Quality educational programs, a stimulating home environment, good health care, and positive support from family, friends and the community enable people with Down syndrome to develop their full potential and lead fulfilling lives. People with Down syndrome attend school and work, and participate in decisions that concern them, and contribute to society in many wonderful ways.”
Mental illness and Down Syndrome effect the lives of everyone in the United States. Almost everyone knows someone who suffers from one of these issues. October is the time to show your support for those suffering from these disorders and to give them the love and hope they deserve. For more information on Down Syndrome visit www.ndss.org. For more information on mental illnesses visit www.nami .org.