September is known as Recovery Month, a national observance dedicated to promoting the message that, with the right help and support, people can and do recover from mental health and substance use disorders to live healthy, self-directed lives as valuable members of their community.
But the recovery process for those facing mental illness and substance use disorders is not bound by any date on the calendar. This work is ongoing because these types of disorders affect thousands of people in Idaho, including many of our friends, neighbors and co-workers. Any month is a good time to educate people about prevention, treatment and recovery support resources available within the community to help someone struggling with mental illness or addiction.
Mental health and substance use disorders are often linked to higher risk of suicide, which is a serious problem in our state: Idaho has the eighth-highest suicide rate in the nation — 44 percent higher than the national average. One in seven Idaho high school students seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reports that about 62,000 adults in Idaho experience a serious mental illness each year. More than 255,000 Idaho adults experience some kind of mental illness annually, but less than half of those individuals (45.8 percent) receive mental health treatment or counseling to help address their condition. The Trust for America’s Health cites the number of drug overdose deaths in Idaho as having doubled since 1999, with the majority of these deaths resulting from prescription drug use.
Mental health and substance use disorders do not discriminate. They affect people from all walks of life regardless of age, gender, ethnicity and socioeconomic level.
• According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, one in five American adults — approximately 43.7 million people — experience a mental illness in a given year, and an estimated 24.6 million Americans age 12 or older used illicit drugs in the past month.
• Drug overdoses are the leading cause of injury deaths in the United States, at nearly 44,000 per year, according to the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. These deaths have more than doubled in the past 14 years.
• SAMHSA reports that more than 22 million Americans 12 or older need treatment for an illicit drug or alcohol use problem.
Resources are Available
It’s important to let those who are struggling with a mental illness or substance use disorder know that help is available, and where they can find local treatment and recovery support resources.
• Optum Idaho Member Access and Crisis Line: If you or someone you know needs immediate help, call the Optum Idaho Member Access and Crisis Line at (855) 202-0973 to speak to a behavioral health professional who can help individuals in crisis get connected to appropriate community support resources. This free resource is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to anyone in Idaho.
• The Idaho CareLine is a statewide community information and referral source to programs that offer free or low cost health and human services or social services. To access this service, call 2-1-1 or visit www.211.idaho.gov. They will direct you to resources and people who can help.
• Visit www.OptumIdaho.com for more information and links to find recovery support resources near you.
If you or someone you know is struggling with a mental health or substance use issue, don’t be afraid to ask for help. There are people out there who are ready and available to help. Reaching out for that help is the first step to recovery.
Dr. Dennis J. Woody, Ph.D. is the clinical director for Optum Idaho.