Article by Vallery Brown | The Oklahoman | Published: December 23, 2012

The statistics are staggering.

Nearly half of all Americans will develop a mental illness during their lifetime, according to data from the National Comorbidity Survey.

More than a quarter of adults in the U.S. have a diagnosable mental health problem, but only about half seek treatment, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health estimates about 22 percent of Oklahomans have some form of mental health issue.

“There’s misunderstanding that it’s a weakness, that it’s sin or that we’re inadequate if we face mental illness. People were tortured, imprisoned and punished historically for these diseases, and that’s at the root of the stigma.” – R. Murali Krishna, M.D.

Advocates say the heart of the problem is a fragmented system of care spanning the public and private market, spilling over into nonprofit or community care, and in many cases, the prison system.

“Mental disorders are more prevalent than heart disease, diabetes, stroke … As a society we don’t take it as seriously as some other health problems because of the stigma of being identified,” said Harry Tyler, executive director of the Mental Health Association of Central Oklahoma.

Tyler said education is critical to getting help to people and in breaking down the barriers to care, including the stigma often associated with mental illness.

Continue reading this article at: NewsOK