September is Mental Health Awareness Month

The Foundation has always supported families in crisis and organizations working on mental health issues. A few years ago, we added Mental Health Awareness to September to help those thousands effected by the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

The 9/11 World Trade Center Health Program. On September 11, 2001, workers and volunteers from a variety of trades worked around the clock to search for the missing, and later, to clean up the dust and twisted metal and all that remained of the Twin Towers. It is estimated that over 400,000 people were exposed to toxic contaminants, risks of traumatic injury and physically and emotionally stressful conditions in the days, weeks and months following the attacks.

According to the 9/11 WTC Health Program, there are 52 related health conditions suffered by those who experienced the attacks, with PTSD being "the most common health effect". Physically, common 9/11-related conditions include lower respiratory symptoms, chronic coughs and rhinosinusitis, asthma, COPD, GERD and 15 certified cancers. Emotionally, in addition to PTSD and other stress-related conditions, health effects include anxiety disorders, depression and acute depression. Studies show that survivors and workers also have an increased risk of developing substance abuse disorders.

For decades in America, a stigma existed about mental health issues. There has been significant progress made in the past two decades in terms of treatments available, along with the clear realization that mental health issues should be treated just as physical ailments are. The Foundation broadened its theme of Mental Health Awareness to include organizations that work to improve mental health for individuals and to help improve the understanding of mental illness.

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The WTC Health Program serves FDNY Responders, WTC General Responders (including NYPD) and Pentagon and Shanksville, PA Responders plus WTC Survivors who were present in the "NYC Disaster Area" in the dust and dust cloud on 9/11/2001; individuals who worked, resided or attended school, child  or adult care in the NYC Disaster Area from 9/11/201 to 7/31/2002. Coverage, however, goes to individuals in every state in the country.
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This list, left, is from Mental Health America,  which has been the leading (and oldest) organization for addressing the needs of those living with mental illness, along with promoting the overall mental health of all. The organization was founded in 1909 by a man who spent time in public and private institutions and witnessed (and was himself subjected to) terrible abuse and the stigma of mental illness.

Fast Facts: Mental Illness in America
  • 1 in 5 U.S. adults experience mental illness each year      
  • 1 in 20 U.S. adults experience serious mental illness each year
  • 1 in 6 U.S. youth (6-17) experience a mental health disorder each year
  • 50% of all lifetime mental illness begins by age 14; 75% by age 24
  • Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among people aged 10-34

Facts from NAMI
Related charitable organizations: National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), NAMI of DuPage County, TriCity Family Services and Fox Valley Hands of Hope.
The Cost of Mental Illness
Depression is the number one cause of disability worldwide and is a major contributor to
disease globally
Serious mental illness costs America $193 billion in lost earnings every year
90% of those who die by suicide have an underlying mental illness. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S.
Information from Mental Health America
Students aged 6-17 with mental, emotional or behavioral concerns are 3x more likely to repeat a grade
The Hidden Cost of Mental Illness
People with depression have a 40% higher risk of developing cardiovascular and metabolic diseases than the general population
32.1% of U.S. adults with mental illness also experienced a substance use disorder in 2020
The rate of unemployment is higher among U.S. adults who have mental illness (6.4%) compared to those who do not (5.1%)
Information from NAMI
High school students with significant symptoms of depression are more than twice as likely to drop out compared to their peers
The Stigma of Mental Illness
The stigma of mental illness remains one of the biggest barriers preventing people from seeking treatment or ending their silence about their condition
Research shows that 56% of Americans still feel uncomfortable telling their friends or family if they are suffering from mental illness
According to the American Psychological Assn., more than 1/3 of Americans feel uncomfortable interacting with someone who has a
mental illness
In the same study, 39% would view someone "differently"  if they knew of their mental
illness; 33% agreed that
"people with mental health disorders scare me"
Information from NAMI
Do You (or Do You Know Someone) Who Needs Help?
NAMI Offers These Resources 

(See its website for more information)
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