While the US has its share of legitimate health crises, none is as widespread or contributes as much to the burden of illness as do mental illnesses. With October 2-8 being Mental Illness Awareness Week, it’s an ideal time to break the silence and stigma that often surround the topic.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) find that about half of U.S. adults will develop a mental illness during their lifetime. One in four adults experiences a mental disorder in any given year, and one in 17 lives with a serious mental illness like schizophrenia, major depression or bipolar disorder. By 2020, mental and substance use disorders will surpass all physical diseases worldwide as major causes of disability.

Mental Illness Awareness Week is an opportunity to stop the whispering and speak up about mental illness to our friends, co-workers and legislators. We cannot afford to wait for the next national tragedy to recognize that mental illness is a public health crisis that deserves our nation’s attention and support.

A Silent Public Health Crisis