At NAMI Keystone Pennsylvania, we work hard to ensure that our elected officials, candidates for office, and members of the general public stay informed about mental illness, as well as its impact on individuals and families across the Commonwealth.
Over the past two months, we've told you about who we are, shared some facts and statistics about mental illness in Pennsylvania, talked about our Commonwealth's incredibly effective First Episode Psychosis (FEP) programs, and we have even shared the story of one young woman who was able to get her life back on track due to her participation in an FEP program.
Now, with Election Day less than a month away, we're asking all of our General Assembly candidates to keep people with mental illness firmly in mind not only through November, but over the years to come as well. Why? Because mental illness impacts us all.
- 20 percent of youth ages 13-18 live with a mental health condition.
- 50 percent of all lifetime cases of mental illness begin by age 14, and 75 percent begin by age 24.
- 3 percent of people will experience psychosis during their lives, and 1 percent of adults live with schizophrenia – over 110,000 Pennsylvanians.
Thankfully, there is hope for people experiencing symptoms of mental illness. For example, Pennsylvania's nine existing FEP programs report remarkable results for people experiencing psychotic symptoms:
- The percent of participants with inpatient psychiatric hospitalizations decreased from 80 percent prior to admission to 16 percent during 6 months of enrollment in an FEP program
- The average number of hospital nights dropped from 22.91 per participant to 2.7
- Suicidal thoughts dropped from 40 percent to 20 percent
- Violent or aggressive behavior dropped from 40 percent to 10 percent
Regardless of the outcomes in November, we ask you and all citizens of our great Commonwealth to keep fighting on behalf of people experiencing mental illness. Together, we can ensure that they find help – and find hope.
Christine Michaels, MSHSA
CEO, NAMI Keystone Pennsylvania