May is Mental Health Awareness Month, created to educate the public and provide support to people with mental illness and their loved ones.
Mental health was identified as a top health concern for Sangamon County residents in the 2021 Community Health Needs Assessment. According to the Healthy Communities Index and Illinois Youth Survey:
- 16.2% of Sangamon County adults have been diagnosed with depression. This includes 17% of the Medicare population, which includes people 65 and older, as well as people under 65 with certain disabilities or end-stage renal disease.
- 12.3% of Sangamon County adults stated that their mental health was not good 14 or more days in the past month.
- The age-adjusted death rate due to suicide in Sangamon County is 13.7 deaths per 100,000 population, which is comparable to the national average.
- 45% of tenth-graders and 43% of 12th-graders in Sangamon County reported feeling so sad and hopeless for two weeks or more that they stopped doing some usual activities.
- 19% of tenth-graders and 16% of 12th-graders reported that they had seriously considered attempting suicide.
While specific data is not available for Sangamon County, experts say these numbers may be even higher among people of color and LGBTQ+ people nationwide due to discrimination, bias, stigma and violence as well as disparities in income and health insurance coverage.
“These statistics show how essential mental health services are in Sangamon County and across central Illinois,” said Diana Knaebe, president of Memorial Behavioral Health. “Treatment can be life-changing. If you are struggling with your mental health, please reach out for help.”
One way to obtain help is to call the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, which is available 24/7, including holidays, for people experiencing a mental health crisis. (The line is answered by crisis counselors from Memorial Behavioral Health from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday.) Veterans who call 988 will be connected with a crisis counselor who is also a veteran. The 988 hotline provides live crisis center calling services in English and Spanish and uses Language Line Solutions to provide translation services in more than 250 additional languages.