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This year Mental Illness Awareness Weeks runs from October 3rd through October 9th. This year Mental Illness Awareness Week will be centered around the National Alliance for Mental Illness’s new awareness campaign, “Together for Mental Health.” #Together4MH #MIAW.

The focus of Mental Illness Awareness Week will be on the importance of advocating for better care for people with serious mental illness. Throughout the week, Kantor & Kantor will be sharing and highlighting different voices of people affected by mental illness (patients, family members, medical professionals, advocates, and attorneys) on our firm’s website and blog.

What is the definition of SMI?

Serious Mental Illness (SMI) is defined as someone over the age of 18 who has (or had within the past year) a diagnosable mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder that causes serious functional impairment that substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities.

SMI is a small subset of the 300 mental illnesses listed in The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). SMI includes disorders such as bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder, schizophrenia, and schizoaffective disorder.

What is the prevalence of SMI?

  • In 2019, there were an estimated 13.1 million adults aged 18 or older in the United States with SMI. This number represented 5.2% of all U.S. adults.
  • The prevalence of SMI was higher among females (6.5%) than males (3.9%).
  • Young adults aged 18-25 years had the highest prevalence of SMI (8.6%) compared to adults aged 26-49 years (6.8%) and aged 50 and older (2.9%).
  • The prevalence of SMI was highest among the adults reporting two or more races (9.3%), followed by AI/AN adults (6.7%). The prevalence of SMI was lowest among NH/OPI adults (2.6% )

What treatments are effective for SMI?

Treatment choices for serious mental illness (SMI) and any mental health conditions vary from person to person.  There is no “one size fits all” treatment. Some of the treatment options that may be part of a treatment plan for someone with SMI include:

  • Psychotherapy – Examples include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Interpersonal Psychotherapy, and Family Psychoeducation.
  • Medication – While medication does not cure mental illness it may reduce the frequency or severity of symptoms, which can allow for improved quality of life and recovery.
  • Brain stimulation therapies – These options are often considered when medication and therapy are not effective at relieving the symptoms of mental health conditions. Examples include electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS).
  • Hospital and residential treatment programs – Sometimes serious mental illness becomes so severe that an individual may need care in a psychiatric hospital. Options include 24-hour inpatient care, partial or day hospitalization, or residential treatment.

At Kantor & Kantor we work to put an end to stigma surrounding mental illness and substance use disorders and we advocate for treatment and recovery. We are willing to stand up to the insurance companies when they deny treatment and we understand that living with a mental illness or substance use disorder is different for everyone.

If you or someone you know is suffering from a mental illness and you are being denied benefits by your insurance, please call Kantor & Kantor for a free consultation at 800-446-7529. We understand, and we can help.