In honor of Mental Health Month, Better Health Advisors is focusing on mental illness in an effort to promote mental heath and reduce the stigma associated with psychiatric disorders. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, about 20% of adults in the United States experience mental illness each year. However, less than half of those individuals receive treatment, and on average, adults with serious mental illness have their lifespan reduced by 25 years, compared to their counterparts without mental illness.

Most people recognize common warning signs of mental illness, such as emotional distress, change in appetite or sleep, and social withdrawal. However, some risk factors are less obvious and important to be aware of, including:

1. Internet addiction: Being constantly glued to a screen may be the norm in our society, but it is possible to become addicted to the internet. Signs of unhealthy internet use include: being unable to cut down on screen time and strong compulsions to be online at all times.

2. Excessive spending: Individuals who engage in compulsive buying are inclined to spend every penny that they have, buy items that they cannot afford, and overdraw their bank accounts buying items they do not need.

3. Troublesome exercise patterns: Exercise can be troubling when it becomes extreme – either not enough or too much. Signs of too much exercise include neglecting personal or professional responsibilities in order to workout, or continuing to exercise despite an injury.

4. Marijuana Use: Although marijuana is often prescribed to treat diseases such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, there is evidence that marijuana use is a risk factor for developing certain types of mental disorders, such as schizophrenia.

5. Head injuries: Experiencing a head injury, especially during adolescence, increases risk of developing mental illnesses later in life.

Better health means taking a holistic approach to healthcare; this includes creating a medical team that can attend to both your physical and mental health. Fortunately, Better Health Advisor’s custom approach to wellness can help identify your particular risk factors for mental illness, and create a plan to ensure prompt treatment and an improved diagnosis.