Receiving a mental health diagnosis as an adult can be frightening, one with many questions, concerns, and uncertainty on the horizon. It’s not uncommon to experience a wide array of emotions. While the news may issue relief that their feelings are finally validated and explained, others may be disheartened. 

It’s not uncommon to feel denial, sadness, or even shame. However, we’re here to give you the reassurance you need to understand that a mental health diagnosis is not the end of the world, but rather a new beginning with the support and advocacy you need to live a happier life. There will certainly be challenges, but mental illness is manageable — with countless resources, coping strategies, and treatments to support your recovery. 

Where to Start 

First, you need to understand all you can about your diagnosis. When you’re ready, you can seek important information, treatment initiatives, and support channels regarding your specific diagnosis. Your doctors will certainly offer up a good portion of this information, but the more you learn — the better you’ll be able to work with your mental health professional and determine a path that feels right for you. 

If you know someone else that has a similar diagnosis, chat with them about their experiences. This is especially helpful if they’ve been dealing with this specific mental health concern for a considerable amount of time, as they’ll be better equipped to give you the reassurance and guidance you need. If you know any mental health professionals you trust — they can also be a fantastic resource at this time. 

The internet can be a great tool as well but use it sparingly and wisely. Be sure that you’re exploring trusted websites such as the National Institute of Mental Health or Mental Health America. If you find a website with quick fixes or “miracle treatments,” they’re more than likely not a reliable source of information. Look for sites with reputable sources. 

You’re Not Alone (The Data) 

It’s not uncommon to feel a sense of isolation after a mental health diagnosis. However, remember that you’re not alone. You may be surprised to find out just how common mental illness is — and how the stigma surrounding mental health concerns has significantly decreased over the years. 

In the United States, mental illnesses are extremely common. In fact, one in five adults here lives with mental illness. 

There are two categories of mental illness defined by the Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV). 

  1. Any Mental Illness (AMI) refers to mental, behavioral, or emotional disorders that range from no impairment to severe impairment. 

The prevalence of mental illness in this country cannot be understated, as it gives light to something that many individuals share. The data regarding mental illness shows that over 45 million adults in the U.S. are affected by AMIs. Additionally:

  • Women were more likely to be diagnosed with an AMI by seven percent 
  • Young adults (18-25) have the highest prevalence of AMIs by age group 
  • Over 10 million adults are estimated to have had serious suicidal thoughts 
  1. Serious mental illness (SMI) refers to serious functional impairment from mental, behavioral, or emotional disorders. 

SMIs are also prevalent amongst adults, with roughly 11.2 million adults being affected by various conditions. Serious mental illness can be particularly difficult, as they negatively impact one’s ability to live a fulfilling life. Whether it’s by affecting family, work, or healthy living — SMIs require various treatments and management techniques. 

Additional Mental Health Statistics 

It’s imperative for those struggling with a mental health diagnosis to realize that you’re not alone. Whether you’re dealing with moderate to severe issues, there’s a community of support waiting to help guide you through. 

Mental health issues can include: 

  • Anxiety Disorders 
  • Depression
  • Bipolar Disorder 
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
  • Post-Traumatic-Stress Disorder (PTSD) 
  • Schizophrenia 
  • Personality Disorders
  • Eating Disorders 
  • Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) 
  • And more 

Below are some compelling data from the National Institute of Mental Health regarding how many U.S. adults face some of the most common mental illnesses. 

Anxiety disorders – affect roughly 19% of U.S. adults.

Major depressive episodes – impact around 7.1% of U.S. adults. 

Bipolar disorders – reach around 4.4% of all U.S. adults at some point in their lives. 

PTSD – experiences affected roughly 3.6% of adults in the United States last year 

Personality disorders – and borderline personality disorders impacted a combined 10.5% of U.S. adults last year. 

Related: Can Online Counseling Help My Anxiety? ; Is Your Psychiatrist Right For You?

What Can You Do About a Mental Health Diagnosis?

There are many resources, treatments, tools, and support systems available for those struggling with mental illness. Whether it’s in-house counseling or psychiatric care — or even online mental health services, the routes people can take have grown tremendously over the years. 

For some, we understand how difficult it can be to receive this news, but it’s not the end of the world. Every step toward betterment is a step in the right direction. Remember — you’re not alone.

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