Category Mental Health

World Health Day Highlights a Yearlong Conversation about Depression

We need to talk—about depression. The World Health Organization (WHO), has chosen depression as the focus of this year’s World Health DayExternal Web Site Policy on April 7, 2017, The theme is “Depression: Let’s Talk.” For years, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has encouraged open discussion about mental health through efforts like community conversations. SAMHSA applauds WHO’s efforts to take this discussion global.

Depression is more common than ever—not only in the United States, but around the world. In Depression and Other Common Mental Disorders: Global Health EstimatesExternal Web Site Policy, WHO reports that an increasing number of people in low-to-middle income nations experience depression and anxiety. However, more people experience depression (5.9%) and anxiety (6.3%) in the United States than the global averages (4.4% and 3.6%, respectively). To help achieve the important goal of linking people to treatment, the U.S. Preventive Task Force recommends universal depression screening for adolescentsExternal Web Site Policy and adultsExternal Web Site Policy, even for people who have no obvious risk factors.

Depression is becoming increasingly common among younger Americans, creating an urgent need to respond systematically. In 2015, 10.3% of adults aged 18 to 25 experienced a major depressive episode, compared to 8.3% in 2011. Of even greater concern, 12.5% of adolescents experienced a major depressive episode, compared to only 8.2% in 2011.

The good news is that depression is treatable, and recovery is possible. In October 2016, WHO launched a yearlong global discussion about depressionExternal Web Site Policy, intended to inform the public about depression and suicide, encourage people to seek help, and teach friends and family how to provide support.

When we talk about depression and treatment, it’s important to realize that treatment can take many forms. Also, each person’s path to recovery is as unique as their circumstances. Some people, like pregnant and parenting women, older adultsExternal Web Site Policy, and youth, may need specialized treatment and support. That’s why SAMHSA sponsors the Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator and National Helpline, 1-800-662-HELP (4357). For those in crisis, SAMHSA sponsors the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

When people have access to treatment and support, recovery is possible! As part of WHO’s campaign, newscaster James Chau shares his remarkable story of depression, treatment, and recoveryExternal Web Site Policy. His recovery began with finding someone to listen to him and support him. “Something went right when I opened up—when I chose to speak,” he says. So, let’s talk!

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The “B” in LGBT: Bisexual People and Behavioral Health

By: Amy Andre, MBA, MA, member of SAMHSA’s Sexual and Gender Minority Interest Group

From September 21-27, we celebrate Bisexuality Awareness Week.  In honor of this upcoming event, I’d like to talk about the “B” in the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) community.  Did you know that, of all those who identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual, half identify as bisexual? That means the “B” the largest segment of the LGBT community.

Bisexual people are people who are attracted to more than one gender (although not necessarily at the same time, to the same extent, or in the same way). Like gay and lesbian people, many bisexual people experience discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and this discrimination can have an impact on health.  According to data from the National Health Information Survey and others, bisexual people face discrimination and higher rates of mental and/or substance use disorders compared to people who are not bisexual.

For years, researchers at medical schools and public health institutions have shown that, compared to their heterosexual peers, gay and lesbian people have higher levels of depression and suicidality, as well as smoking, alcohol and substance misuse, and that these are, in part, linked to homophobia and its effect on behavioral health.  More recent research shows that the same is true for bisexual people, and to an even larger extent.  In addition, the literature shows that bisexual people, compared to their gay and lesbian peers, are less likely to be out of the closet, which might have implications for behavioral health.  One goal of Bisexuality Awareness Week is to call attention to the health disparities faced by this community, and another goal is to highlight the importance of targeted, culturally competent programs to reduce those disparities.

The Administration has taken important steps towards meeting the unique needs of the bisexual community.  Last year the White House’s Office of Public Engagement convened a panel of bisexual community leaders and bisexual health experts to participate in a roundtable discussion on the topic.  And this year, SAMHSA will be hosting a “brown bag” training event for staff to learn about behavioral health in the bisexual community.  SAMHSA has also recommended that sexual orientation (including bisexuality) survey items be added to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, beginning in 2015.

People who identify as bisexual face challenges, but getting the behavioral health care they need doesn’t have to be one of them.  By educating  health care providers about including culturally competent support services to the bisexual community, SAMHSA is working to fulfill its mission is to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America’s communities.

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Join the Recovery Month Movement

By: Michael Duffy, RN, BSN, SAMHSA Region VI Regional Administrator

Throughout the month of September, communities across the country have come together to observe the 25th annual National Recovery Month (Recovery Month). Community events are the cornerstone of Recovery Month and provide a setting celebrate the successes of people who are in recovery. As individuals and communities across the country unite to speak up about behavioral health conditions and the reality of recovery, I invite you to join the movement and participate in Recovery and Health: Echoing Through the CommunityExternal Web Site Policy, a nationwide webcast.

On Monday, September 15, 2014 at 12:00 p.m. EST, a panel of national experts and experienced practitioners in recovery and health will kick-off an interactive discussion about integrating recovery into state and community systems. During this discussion, participants can send live questions to the panelists via email or on Twitter (@samhsagovExternal Web Site Policy). At the end of the panel discussion, echo site participants are invited to lead their own discussion using the information from the webcast to brainstorm and create an action plan to integrate recovery into their community.

Get involved and join the voices for recovery!

Register your Echo Site now! Register as an individual now!
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