Millions of Americans live with a mental health condition, but many don’t recognize the symptoms and don’t seek treatment in the early stages. Mental Health Awareness Week is from October 6 – 12, 2019. This year, Mental Health America (MHA) is hosting a #7days7ways campaign to share facts about mental health conditions and ways to fight the stigma.
Companies providing mental health transcription services help psychologists, therapists, psychiatrists, and other mental health professionals capture and chart patient encounters and ensure accurate EHR documentation. Such support is crucial as mental illness is complex, subjective, and difficult to treat. Mental healthcare often involves more time than a regular office visit allows. Members of mental health care teams collaborate with each other to diagnose and treat patients.
The U.S. Congress established Mental Illness Awareness Week in 1990 to recognize the efforts made by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) to educate and increase awareness about mental illness. This observance takes place every year during the first full week of October.
The theme of Mental Health Awareness Week in 2019 is7 Days, 7 Ways. During this week, MHA will focus on sharing information about 7 major mental health conditions:
- Bipolar Disorder
- Eating Disorders
- Depression (on October 10 to coincide with World Mental Health Day and National Depression Screening Day)
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PSTD)
- Addiction/Substance Use Disorder
According to MHA:
- 1 in 5 American adults will have a diagnosable mental health condition in any given year.
- 46% of Americans will meet the criteria for a diagnosable mental health condition sometime in their life, and half of those people will develop conditions by the age of 14.
People need to learn to recognize the warning signs. However, it is not always easy to distinguish between what expected behaviors are and possible signs of a mental illness. The National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) lists the typical signs of mental illness in adults and adolescents as:
- Excessive worrying or fear
- Feeling excessively sad or low
- Confused thinking or problems concentrating and learning
- Extreme mood changes, including uncontrollable “highs”
- Prolonged or strong feelings of irritability or anger
- Avoiding friends and social activities
- Difficulties understanding or relating to other people
- Changes in sleeping habits or feeling tired and low energy
- Increased hunger or lack of appetite
- Changes in sex drive
- Delusions or hallucinations
- Inability to perceive changes in one’s own feelings, behavior or personality
- Abuse of substances like alcohol or drugs
- Multiple physical ailments such as headaches, stomach aches, etc., without obvious causes
- Thinking about suicide
- Inability to carry out daily activities or handle daily problems and stress
- An intense fear of weight gain or concern with appearance
It is now recognized that improving overall health is impossible without addressing behavioral health. A Modern Healthcare article provided the following statistics about behavioral health’s effect on chronic conditions:
- Between 15％ to 30％ of people with diabetes also have depression, leading to worse outcomes, such as higher body-mass index and increased risk of conditions like coronary artery disease, cerebrovascular disease, and microvascular complications
- Up to 33％ of those who suffer a heart attack later experience depression
- 15% to 25% of people with cancer have comorbid depression
MHA recommends taking a mental health screening as one of the quickest and easiest ways to identify symptoms of a mental health condition. MHA provides tests to screen for various mental health conditions at mhascreening.org. A person who completes screening is also provided with information, resources and tools to discuss the results with healthcare professional.
Anyone can get involved in Mental Illness Awareness Week. MHA suggests various ways to do this: learning about different types of mental illnesses, taking a screening test and encouraging others to do so too, and using social media to create messages and provide tips on how people can get involved with mental health advocacy, awareness and education.
As mental health professionals focus on diagnosing and treating mental health disorders, medical transcription service companies can provide EHR-integrated documentation solutions to improve behavioral health workflows, reporting and analytics.