According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, one in four adults will experience a mental disorder over the course of any given year and one in 17 suffers from a serious mental illness, including major depression or bipolar disorder. What's worse, 31 percent of adults surveyed said they would avoid treatment for fear of judgement.
That silent suffering carries a crushing cost: mental illness is the leading cause of disability in the United States and Canada for people 15-44 years old; life expectancy for those with a serious mental illness is 25 years shorter than average; the economic toll of depression has been estimated at more than $80 billion; and suicide—the third-leading cause of death among 15-24 year olds—takes a life every 15 minutes in the United States.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month, when those struggling with mental illness—or who think they might have a mental illness—are encouraged to seek help.
The importance of shedding the stigma and seeking mental health treatment is underscored in this week's feature story by staff writer Jessica Murri, which looks at the impact of suicides by two Ada County paramedics in the past year.
Saddened and shocked as they were by the deaths of their colleagues, officials with Ada County Paramedics saw the tragedies as an important opportunity to address mental health care openly. Recognizing the general reluctance toward asking for help—especially from those whose job it is to help others—is important, and having a public conversation about the issue hopefully eases some of that fear of judgement.
Speaking of giving advice, counseling and comfort, this week marks the launch of a new weekly feature in the paper: "Minerva's Breakdown," an advice column from Boise's Blonde Bombshell, the inimitable Minerva Jayne. Find the first installment on Page 30 and send questions to Minerva at bit.ly/MinervasBreakdown.
(Correction: In our May 6 story "Sticker Shock: CWI's $8.8M land buy sparks pushback," we misspelled University of Idaho Associate Professor of Law John Rumel's last name. BW regrets the error.)