Extensive series focuses on the many faces of mental illness

Mental illness in Rowan County is the subject of an eight-part series of stories written by Noelle Hunter for The Morehead News.

With Part 1 largely an introduction to the project, Part 2 gets into the facts and figures of the disorders that fall under the mental-illness umbrella. According to the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration, 45.9 million American adults — one in five — experienced some mental illness in the past year. In Kentucky, 180,000 people live with a serious mental illness, which includes schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, panic disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Dr. Thomas Insell, director of the National Institute of Mental Health, described mental illnesses as “real brain disorders that result from complex genetic risks plus environmental factors.” Neither prevalence nor mortality rates associated with mental illness have decreased over time. And though there have been advancements in treatments these disorders, most in the way of medication and therapy, there is still much that is unknown, Hunter reports.
That comes with larger cultural ramifications. In 2008, about 5,100 adults who have a mental illness were incarcerated in Kentucky prisons and almost 700 adults committed suicide, “almost always a result of untreated mental illness,” Hunter reports.
The series is running on Tuesdays in the twice-a-week paper. Part 3 profiles a woman living with bipolar disorder; Part 4 will report on the views of clinicians and therapists; Part 5 will profile a man living with bipolar disorder; Part 6 will profile a person living with schizophrenia; Part 7 will focus on the effects on families; and Part 8 will look at treatment options and recovery. The website of the newspaper, part of Community Newspaper Holdings Inc., is here.
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