Last May, we at the Tribune turned our logo in the masthead green in support of Mental Health Awareness Month. If you picked up the print edition today and wondered why it is green again this year, it's for the very same reason.
As I had stated in a column last year, almost every month seems to have some type of important cause that we should be aware of and/or care about, but I'm not sure there is one that is more important than mental health.
According to statistics complied by the National Alliance on Mental Illness, some of the facts are quite jarring:
Nearly 60 percent of adults with a mental illness didn't receive mental health services in the previous year.
One if five adults in America experience a mental illness.
One-half of all chronic mental illness begins by the age of 14.
Ninety percent of those who die by suicide have an underlying mental illness. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. — third in ages 10–24.
The average delay between onset of symptoms and intervention is eight to 10 years.
With statistics like that, chances are you know or have had dealings with someone who has had a mental illness. It is extremely prevalent in our society and there are not enough resources to resolve it. The cost to maintain these services is staggering.
Whether your idea of mental health is the same as your neighbors, it doesn't matter. It can mean everything from addiction to depression to anxiety to mental illness — the list goes on and on. What does matter is that the shortage of services is not unique to the Lake — it is everywhere.
We have some tremendous services that are offered by some of our health care providers throughout the Tahoe Basin, but there's just not enough. It's not their fault. There's simply not enough support for the services needed to make a difference of significant magnitude.
That's where I think we can help — at least to a degree. It's also why we turn our logo green. For every question asked about it, hopefully there is an answer that elicits a response, which drives awareness, or better yet, action.
Whether it is through awareness, advocacy, support or volunteering, the more people who can help spread the word about the services that are offered or simply understanding symptoms, the better.
Many people who suffer from mental illness go untreated. Many times it's due to not knowing why they feel the way they do. Talk to the people you know and love. It could be the difference they need to get better.
Please join us in bringing awareness during the month of May (and beyond). Even if the effort helps only one person, it's the start of an uphill battle that we all can help fight.
Publisher Rob Galloway can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-542-8046.