The Mental Health Conversation

Kate Spade’s apparent suicide is driving mental health conversations across our state and across the country. Ms. Spade, a world renowned designer, leaves behind a husband and a 13 year old daughter. Her husband, Andy Spade, released a statement yesterday that read, in part:

“Kate suffered from depression and anxiety for many years,” it read. “She was actively seeking help and working closely with her doctors to treat her disease, one that takes far too many lives. We were in touch with her the night before and she sounded happy. There was no indication and no warning that she would do this. It was a complete shock. And it clearly wasn’t her. There were personal demons she was battling.” 

According to ABC News, “Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Suicide rates for white females increased 60 percent between 1999 and 2014. Middle-aged women, between ages 45 and 64, had the highest suicide rate among women in both 2014 and 1999, according to CDC data.

While some may find it difficult to understand how someone of such wealth and fame can be so unhappy, Yahoo.com responded with a headline that read – “Kate Spade’s suicide is proof that money and fame can’t deter depression.”

In recent years, a number of Hollywood celebrities, sports stars, artists and world dignitaries have revealed their own battles with mental health issues in hopes of touching those who may feel alone in their struggles. Stars such as James Franco, Emma Stone, Michael Phelps and Serena Williams.

Fortune.com found some sobering statistics regarding how deeply mental health issues are affecting Americans.

  • 1 in 5 (or 43.8 million) adults experience mental illness in a given year.
  • 1 in 25 (or 10 million) adults experience a serious mental illness.
  • 1 in 100 (or 2.4 million) live with schizophrenia.
  • 2.6% (or 6.1 million) of Americans have bipolar disorder.
  • 6.9% (or 16 million) suffer from severe depression.
  • 18.1% (or 42 million) live with an anxiety disorder.
  • 90% of those who die by suicide have an underlying mental illness.

And yet:

  • Only 41% of adults with a mental health condition received help and less than 50% of children 8-15 received mental health services.
  • Only 36.9% of those suffering from anxiety receive treatment.
  • Less than 20% of Americans with moderate depressive symptoms sought help from a medical professional.
  • And 4% of young adults with self-reported mental health needs forego care.

Share your thoughts on how the conversations that this tragedy has started may be able to bring attention to an issue that people need to feel more comfortable talking about. The more we can talk about, the less people feel alone and stigmatized. We’d love to get your take. Generating meaningful conversations around the health issues making headlines is another way we are working toward our long-term goal of one day making Arizona the Healthiest State in the Nation!

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