With May being Mental Health month, I want to revisit a research article I wrote for the American Counseling Association (ACA) Today magazine about 6 years ago regarding the prevalence of mental illness.
Many of us have heard that 1 out of 5 Americans, 20% of the population, experience mental illness in any given year, which would be the same percentage for Ohioans and Butler County residents. My research at that time included a large number of sources such as the American Psychology Association (APA), the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) that indicated this percent is probably a little bit higher than 20% being about 22.5% which would be between 1 out 5 and 1 out 4 (25%) people on average.
It is important to take into account the COVID-19 pandemic and the challenges that we all have endured over the last 3 years. Reliable sources such as an APA survey last spring provided evidence this one-year prevalence number could be even higher, maybe more toward 1 out of 4 (25%) of our population, especially for our youth and those experiencing substance abuse and dependence.
With Butler County’s current population around 400,000 people, this would mean 100,000 people in any given year experience some degree of mental illness, especially the most common disorders in community mental health. These typically include anxiety, depression and substance misuse.
These numbers do not include the county residents who experience subclinical symptoms that do not meet the level of an illness or a disorder in these areas but still feel a discomfort with their current quality of life.
My research back then indicated that fewer than 50% of those who experience mental illness seek help, often due to lack of awareness, education and/or concern about experiencing the stigma associated with seeking help for a mental illness. This sub 50% number can be extended to those who are subclinical with their symptoms with even fewer likely seeking help in this group.
This discussion reminds me of watching a recent episode of the Dr. Phil (McGraw) show, the well-known television psychologist, when he stated that you cannot have physical health without mental health. The important conclusion here is the need for mental health improvement may be greater than at any point in our lives, so please reach out if you need help.
For those in Butler County seeking help for mental health and substance abuse issues, please call or text the Crisis Hotline and Heroin Hopeline at 844-4CRISIS (844-427-4747). This 24/7/365 line is not only a behavioral health crisis line for Butler County but has a general “Information and Referral” service component with resources for any caller including referrals to prevention, education and treatment agencies in the local community mental health and addiction system.
Providers are listed online as well, at bcmhars.org (click “services” then “providers list”).
Dr. Scott Rasmus is the Executive Director of the Butler County (Ohio) Mental Health and Addiction Recovery Services Board.