May 2016 is Mental Health Awareness Month, a month dedicated to shining light on mental health and mental illness in an attempt to break the stigma and shame surrounding mental health issues and give people hope to seek treatment and recovery.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Health nearly one in five adults in the United States have experienced mental illness in the last year. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) estimates that approximately 61.5 million Americans experience mental health issues in a given year and that 1 in 17 Americans lives with a serious mental illness such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. In terms of substance use disorders, about half all people that suffer from addiction also suffer from some form of mental illness. Yet with so many millions of Americans dealing with mental health issues, the majority suffer in silence. Due to the shame, guilt, fear and stigma associated with mental illness many people will not seek the help or the treatment they need.

Mental illness can take any number of forms and different levels of severity. Some of the most common forms of mental health conditions are: anxiety disorders, depression, bipolar disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), dissociative disorders, borderline personality disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), schizoaffective disorder and schizophrenia.

Hollywood actress Kristen Bell recently opened up about her own battles with mental illness in an interview in the Huffington Post and had a message for anyone dealing with mental health. In the interview Bell, who has a family history of mental illness, stressed that there is no shame in asking for health regarding mental illness and in the absolute necessity in seeking treatment.

“[My mom] is a nurse and she had the wherewithal to recognize that in herself when she was feeling it and when I was 18 said, ‘If you start to feel like you are twisting things around you, and you feel like there is no sunlight around you, and you are paralyzed with fear, this is what it is and here’s how you can help yourself,’” Bell said in the interview.

There is no doubt that America is impacted by mental illness but those that suffer should not have to suffer alone or in silence. Why? Because they are not alone. There are over six million people in America that deal with bipolar disorder; there are almost seven million people in America that live with major depression; there are over 18 million Americans that live with anxiety disorders such as panic disorder, OCD, generalized anxiety disorder or posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

There is no shame in seeking help, especially when the treatment for mental health conditions is so effective. The issue is that the stigma surrounding mental illness and mental health conditions often is the biggest barrier to someone seeking help. How will others view me? How will I be treated? How will my illness impact my family, my job, my relationships? All these fears often keep those in need from seeking help. However, there is help and those that need it should feel no shame in seeking it and looking to improve their lives and live with sound mental health. That is why Mental Health Awareness Month is so important. So that those people in need no longer suffer in silence and feel no shame in seeking the help and treatment they need.

If you or someone you know is in need of help because of drug and/or alcohol abuse or addiction, please give us a call. Maryland Addiction Recovery Center offers the most comprehensive dual diagnosis substance abuse treatment in the Baltimore, Maryland, Washington, DC and Virginia area. If we aren’t the best fit for you or your loved one, we will take the necessary time to work with you to find a treatment center or provider that better fits your needs. Please give us a call at (410) 773-0500 or email our team at Contact us today. For more information on all of our drug addiction and alcohol addiction services and recovery resources, please visit our web site at

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