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#JamesDonaldson on #MentalHealth – Act On Early Signs Of #MentalIllness

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By Arthur Stockwell

Source: NAMI

Most #mentalillnesses are treatable and people who have them can live full, productive and independent lives. Why then are more than 50% of people who have #mentalillness not receiving any treatment or medication?  

In addition to the illness, these individuals have a significantly higher risk of being incarcerated, having an addiction, living in poverty and dying by #suicide. In 2019 America spent $26.4 billion incarcerating the #mentallyill who make up 65% of prison populations, according to the #NationalInstituteofMentalHealth.

#JamesDonaldson notes:

Welcome to the “next chapter” of my life… being a voice and an advocate for #mentalhealthawarenessandsuicideprevention, especially pertaining to our younger generation of students and student-athletes.

Getting men to speak up and reach out for help and assistance is one of my passions. Us men need to not suffer in silence or drown our sorrows in alcohol, hang out at bars and strip joints, or get involved with drug use.

Having gone through a recent bout of #depression and #suicidalthoughts myself, I realize now, that I can make a huge difference in the lives of so many by sharing my story, and by sharing various resources I come across as I work in this space.  #http://bit.ly/JamesMentalHealthArticle

The signs and symptoms of serious #mentalillness often appear in #children and youth; 50% of individuals with serious #mentalillnesses show symptoms before the age of 14. The fortunate #children and youth have parents/guardians/advocates who recognize the symptoms and get them appropriate support. These youth typically stay in school, stay off drugs and go on to lead normal lives with careers and families.

Unfortunately, most children/youths who show symptoms of #mentalillnesses are neglected, faulted and even punished for manifestations of their treatable illnesses. These youth experience a significantly higher risk of dropping out of school, using drugs, becoming homeless, attempting #suicide or being caught in the “revolving door” of crisis that leads to repeated hospitalizations or incarcerations.

The reasons most #children and #youth with #mentalillness don’t get help include: 1) the parents or guardians fail to recognize the symptoms, 2) the symptoms are recognized but ignored because of the #stigma commonly associated with #mentalillness, or 3) the parent or family lacks the resources (or insurance) to obtain treatment for the youths’ illness.

These issues show that keys to reducing untreated #mentalillness include improving and expanding early symptom recognition and developing more accessible treatment and support programs. If a child is showing signs of #mentalillness, which can include sadness, #socialisolation, self-harm, fighting or harming others, intense #anxiety, difficulty concentrating, severe mood swings or changes in personality, don’t assume it’s just a phase or a part of childhood. A professional should make that distinction.

If your child has a #mentalillness, there is help and there is hope. Most #mentalillnesses are treatable and individuals who get help and treatment go on to live full and productive lives. Developing a treatment plan that will help your child achieve their best potential may take months or years, but there is help in the form of organizations that provide support and training, and mentors with similar experiences who have succeeded in achieving their best potential and are now helping others do the same.

If all individuals who are currently living with untreated #mentalillnesses had been diagnosed correctly when they were young and received treatment and mentoring services, there would be significantly fewer people living with addictions, in jail, in poverty or attempting #suicide. Instead, most of these individuals could have built careers and experienced the joys of raising their own families.

If you see the symptoms of #mentalillness in your child, please act and see a #medicalprofessional. If you need help or guidance talk to your child’s school counselor or call #NAMI (#NationalAllianceonMentalIllness) Gainesville at (352) 320-0457.

Arthur Stockwell is executive director of NAMI Gainesville.

Photo by Andy Kuzma on Pexels.com

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