Grizzlies Response: Awareness and Suicide Prevention

Pawley Hall
456 Pioneer Drive
Rochester, MI 48309-4482
(location map)

Mental Health & Mental Illness

Mental health is “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.” In other words, a person that has mental health is able to easily deal with day-to-day issues.

It is estimated that only about 17% of U.S adults are considered to be in a state of optimal mental health. In other words, most adults are not in the best state of mental health.

Mental illness is defined as “collectively all diagnosable mental disorders” or “health conditions that are characterized by alterations in thinking, mood, or behavior (or some combination thereof) associated with distress and/or impaired functioning.” In other words, mental illness is 1) having a mental disorder or 2) suffering from mental distress.

Depression is the most common type of mental illness, affecting more than 26% of the U.S. adult population. It has been estimated that by the year 2020, depression will be the second leading cause of disability throughout the world.

Studies have shown that mental disorders are strongly related to many chronic diseases including diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease, asthma, and obesity and many risk behaviors for chronic disease; such as, physical inactivity, smoking, excessive drinking, and not enough sleep.

Information provided by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention.

Scope of the Problem

One in 6 American adults aged 18 or older, or 44.7 million people, had mental illness in the past year.

Mental health disorders include:
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
  • Autism spectrum disorders
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Borderline personality disorder
  • Depression
  • Eating disorders
  • Schizophrenia
These disorders can range from mild to severe in their affect on an individual's life. Mental health disorders can be comorbid, or occurring alongside, other illnesses. Substance abuse, chronic illnesses (such as cancer and HIV/AIDS) and other mental health disorders can be comorbid with mental health disorders.

Mental health disorders are not the only cause of mental health issues. Stress can play a huge role in an individual’s mental health. Some stress can be useful, like being motivated to study more because you were nervous before a test. Other stresses can have a negative impact on your health. Losing a job or dealing with the death of a loved one are examples of a stressful event that can have serious negative effects on your health. Chronic, or long-term, stress can also negatively affect your health; this might include working in a stressful environment or pressures from taking care of your family.

Almost all mental health disorders can be treated once they are identified. It is important for individuals to spot when they or someone they know is not feeling or acting like themselves. Feeling these symptoms might show that an individual is experiencing mental health issues and should seek help.

If left untreated, mental health issues can have serious effects on your relationships, school or work. Some individuals may turn to drugs or alcohol or withdraw from people and activities they once enjoyed. Some individuals may feel lost or helpless. This may lead an individual to consider suicide.

Suicide occurs when a person ends his or her life. It is the 10th leading cause of death among Americans and 2nd leading cause of death among college students in the U.S. But suicide deaths are only part of the problem. Suicide attempts affect a larger population— more individuals survive suicide attempts than die. They are often seriously injured and in need of medical care. It is important to note that most suicides, both completed and attempted, are preventable.