Editorial: Mental health by the numbers
By Joe Bachman
On Feb. 18, SPASH senior Jackson “Jack” Kelly was reported missing by his family. As the Portage County community came together to search for Kelly, he was later found to be safe and sound on Feb. 19.
While this brought relief to many in the Portage County community, who sent endless support and good vibes Kelly’s way, there is a deeper issue at play that must be brought to light. According to his Twitter post on Feb. 21, the SPASH football standout, who has committed to play Division I football at Illinois State University next year, explained that simply needed a mental break.
“A few weeks prior to Sunday I began developing high amounts of stress, anxiety, depression and brain fog. This was due to many factors, School, College, College, Family, Friends” – Excerpt from Twitter post.
To come out as Kelly did to explain his actions in detail and the reasons behind it, many would consider to be brave, and some would even call it heroic. This not only reveals how much pressure and stress many students of his age can be under throughout any given day, but also attacks the stigma that mental health shouldn’t be taken as seriously among our youth.
By the numbers, mental health deserves more attention in this day and age of social over-stimulation than ever before.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, (NAMI) 1 in 5 adults (approximately 44 million) will experience some type of mental illness in any given year. 1 in 25 adults (nearly 10 million) will experience a serious mental illness that will interfere with one or more major life activity. In regards to our youth, up to 70 percent of those in juvenile justice systems have at least one mental health condition. One out of five teens aged 13-18 will live with a mental health condition, and 50 percent of all lifetime cases will begin by age 14 and 75 percent by age 24.
This is an issue that affects more individuals of all ages much more than we may collectively realize.
These health concerns include depression, anxiety disorders such as posttraumatic stress disorder, (PTSD) obsessive-compulsive disorder, and other phobias. In rare cases, some adults nationwide live with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
Some adults may have some of these conditions without fully realizing it. However, getting access for mental health treatment is telling of a larger issue, as a reported 60 percent did not receive services for mental health in 2018.
There are also serious consequences for lack of treatment.
According to NAMI, serious mental illness cost Americans $193 Billion in lost earnings. Mental illness also leads to increased rates of high school dropouts, and increased risk of suicide. (90 percent of victims will show signs of mental illness) This also affects veterans, who take their own lives at a rate of 18-22 deaths per day. Leaving many symptoms of mental illness unchecked could lead to dire physical health concerns as well.
To get treatment for mental health in today’s social climate is a courageous act in itself, and Jackson Kelly is just that: courageous. Kelly should take comfort in knowing that he is not alone, and victims of all levels of mental illness reaches across race, religion, social class, and gender. To “take a mental health day” is a phrase that needs to be spoken more often, and commonly accepted when the chaos of life demands it.
For those struggling through all levels of mental health concerns, you are never alone, and reaching out is the biggest first step one can take.
There are plenty of resources in Portage County for mental health treatment, and they can be reached for more information at the following links: