• Amanda Baustert

Are You Mental?

Every year, 1 in 5 adults experiences a mental health condition. That’s approximately 5 parents of your 2nd graders’ friends dealing with depression, post-traumatic stress, or obsessive-compulsive disorder. And, honestly, I don’t know a single parent who hasn’t dealt with anxiety at some point!

Being raised by baby boomers who “picked themselves up by the bootstraps,” mental health was swept under the rug, shoved to the back of the closet, and ignored. Suicide was a mixture of all the sodas at the fountain, not a life-threatening reality. However, the face of mental illness has changed over the last 25 years. Because of public awareness, community outreach, and proper diagnosis, the treatment of mental health issues has increased by 50% in the last decade. Parents are talking to their kids about suicide, employers are proactive regarding post-birth anxiety and depression for new mothers, and addiction is talked about in schools.

Half of mental health conditions begin by age 14, with 75% of conditions developed by age 24. On average, anxiety and impulse control disorders first appear around age 11, substance abuse at age 20, and depression at age 30. Hormonal changes can also play a role in diagnosis. Personality and behavioral changes experienced during different life phases (think puberty, mid-life, empty nest) could very well be masking or mimicking the symptoms of mental health conditions. Awareness and early engagement are key to improving outcomes.

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