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Fast Facts: May is Mental Health Month

With mental health awareness on the rise throughout the world, some may wonder, “What exactly does mental health entail?” According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make healthy choices.” Mental illnesses are the conditions that affect one’s mood, thinking, behavior such as depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia. Mental illnesses are some of the most common health conditions found in the United States.


In 2020, the Wisconsin Hospital Association Information Center (WHAIC) reported roughly 53,000 inpatient and emergency department visits where mental health was the reason for visit. The average age of a patient was 36 years old. Following the national trend, ages 21-30 recorded the highest visit counts in Wisconsin, trailed closely by ages 11-20. Females had larger visit counts than males, again matching the national and state trends. Milwaukee County had the highest visit counts in the state, with Dane County coming in second.

The CDC states that “more than 50% of people will be diagnosed with a mental illness or disorder at some point in their lifetime. And one-in-five Americans will experience a mental illness in a given year.” In Wisconsin specifically, most recent Wisconsin Department of Health Services data show that 18.9% of the total adult population in the state have been diagnosed with a mental illness. National data show that adults ages 18-25 along with individuals who are currently employed full-time have an increasing rate of mental health needs when compared to others.

The National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) created some warning signs and symptoms to be on the watch for in adults and adolescence.  These include:

  • Excessive worrying or fear
  • Feeling excessively sad or low
  • Confused thinking or problems concentrating and learning
  • Extreme mood changes, including uncontrollable " highs" or feelings of euphoria
  • Prolonged or strong feelings of irritability or anger
  • Avoiding friends and social activities
  • Difficulties understanding or relating to other people
  • Changes in sleeping habits or feeling tired and low energy
  • Changes in eating habits such as increased hunger or lack of appetite