News outlets across the world rang out with blaring news earlier this week with headlines such as “Robin Williams dead at 63, was battling inner demons for some time”.
“Inner Demons” - Well, that’s one way to describe a brain disorder. Unlike other other illnesses and diseases, mental illness, which is estimated to effect one in four Americans each year according to the National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI), is widely stigmatized as a weakness rather than the illness that it actually is.
Susan Schneider, William’s widow, spoke out about his condition shortly after his passing, “Robin’s sobriety was intact and he was brave as he struggled with his own battles of depression, anxiety, as well as early stages of Parkinson’s Disease which he was not ready to share publicly. It is our hope in the wake of Robin’s passing that others will find the strength to see the care and support they need to treat whatever battles they are facing so that they may feel less afraid.” William’s was seeking treatment for his severe depression in July.
The unfortunate passing of such an influential person has brought a lot of attention to a topic that is often ignored: Mental illness is an illness that requires treatment.
There are no demons.
There is no shame to getting treatment.
The reality of mental illness is:
Approximately 2.4 million people live with Schizophrenia
6.1 million people live with Bipolar Disorder
14.8 people live with Depression
42 million people live with Anxiety disorders
9.2 million people have co-occurring mental health and addiction disorders
For more facts and figures, see: http://www.nami.org/factsheets/mentalillness_factsheet.pdf