Mental Illness Awareness Week Spotlights ADHD and Mental Health

 ADHD Weekly 2016-10-06

Are you or your child among the more than 60 percent of people affected by ADHD who also experience one or more co-occurring conditions, such as depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues? The National Alliance on Mental Illness, NAMI, this week is highlighting the fact that 1 in 5 Americans will confront mental illness during their lifetimes. There is support and help available to improve their lives and treatment to address the interaction of ADHD symptoms and mental illness. For those affected by ADHD and mental illness, NAMI, CHADD, and other mental health advocacy organizations are seeking to replace stigma with hope.

“People with ADHD need to be aware of broader concerns,” says NAMI CEO Mary Giliberti. “A young person may be diagnosed with ADHD, but also require treatment for co-occurring mental health conditions. While comprehensive approaches to evaluation and treatment are improving, persons experiencing ADHD and co-occurring conditions in themselves or their family face stressful challenges and need support in order to succeed in their lives.”

“CHADD provides vital evidence-based information, programs and services for persons and families dealing with ADHD and for professionals and educators,” says CHADD’s Leslie Kain, executive director of the organization’s National Resource Center on ADHD. “NAMI’s education courses and support groups for individuals and families provide a valuable complement to CHADD’s services, especially when other mental health conditions accompany ADHD.”

Mental Illness Awareness Week, which began this year on Sunday, Oct. 2, is an opportunity to push back against stigma and promote advocacy and well-being for the 21.4 percent of young people and 18.5 percent of adults in the United States who experience mental illness each year. During the lifetime of people diagnosed with ADHD, many will also experience an emergence of other co-occurring mental health conditions. During childhood and the teen years, 33 percent of young people diagnosed with ADHD will also experience at least one other co-occurring mental health condition.

More than two-thirds of children and adults diagnosed with ADHD have at least one other co-existing condition:

  • 40 percent are diagnosed with oppositional defiant disorder
  • 38 percent are diagnosed with a mood disorder
  • 20 percent are diagnosed with bipolar disorder

Also, among those diagnosed with ADHD:

  • 30 percent of children are diagnosed with an anxiety disorder
  • 53 percent of adults are diagnosed with an anxiety disorder
  • 14 percent of children are diagnosed with depression
  • 47 percent of adults are diagnosed with depression

People diagnosed with ADHD continue to experience stigma related to their diagnosis, even with more information on the disorder available than ever before. Teens affected by ADHD or mental health conditions, especially when they co-occur, are more likely to experience rejection based on stigma than their peers. The Office of Civil Rights for the Department of education recently released guidance for every public school to be proactive in meeting the needs of students affected by ADHD. =Many students had been denied academic accommodations, rather than having their ADHD and co-occurring mental health conditions recognized as qualifying factors. Many adults continue to be reluctant to disclose their diagnosis at work in order to receive appropriate accommodations out of concern that they will be dismissed, stigmatized, or overlooked for promotions and raises.

Yet when people are able to receive appropriate treatment for ADHD and co-occurring mental health conditions, they have the opportunity to thrive at work and school and to build healthy and sustaining relationships. NAMI offers support for individuals and their families affected by mental illness through various programs and community groups.

CHADD represents the more than 15 million American children and adults affected by ADHD. Through its many activities, including its National Resource Center on ADHD and membership programs, it provides information and resources on ADHD and co-occurring conditions.

You can help to make a difference to combat stigma. October is ADHD Awareness Month. Visit CHADD’s ADHD Awareness Month webpage for ways you can get involved to raise awareness about ADHD and co-occurring mental health conditions.

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