May is Mental Health Awareness Month and I wanted to use this opportunity to share some facts with you. One theme I hear repeatedly is everyone’s feeling that they are unique; unique in their own suffering, unique in their addiction, unique in their eating disorder. The reality is that we’re more like other people than we’d like to believe. Don’t believe me? Check out the stats below:

Fact 1:

About 90% of addictions start in the teen years. *

Fact 2:

Those who drink alcohol before age 15 are four times more likely to become addicted at some point in their lives than those who have their first drink at the age of 20 or older. *

Fact 3:

In the U.S., at least 30 million people, all ages and genders, suffer from an eating disorder. **

Fact 4:

Of those suffering from an eating disorder, one person dies every 62 minutes as a direct result of their disorder. **

Fact 5:

1 in 5 individuals in the United States experiences mental illness in any given year. ***

So if that’s the case, if 1 in 5 (some other groups guess 1 in 4) of us are struggling with these issues, why are we so ashamed to talk about it? Why are we all left feeling like we’re the only ones who are experiencing these things? What would happen if we were able to talk about our own experiences and connect with others around us going through the same thing without fear of judgment and criticism?

The first realization most people have in my office is that they’re not as unique in their suffering as they thought. The second BIG realization usually comes a little bit later when they realize how much of their own quality of life they’ve stolen from themselves waiting so long to get help. If you just started experiencing mental health symptoms, you’re lucky, and my advice is get help NOW! If you’ve been suffering for a while, it’s never too late to reach out. You still have many years ahead of you. Why take more from yourself?