May Is Mental Health Month

May is Mental Health Month

By Dr. Lisa Page

Just as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and others, mental issues are illnesses. People come with health conditions and diseases of all types. Like many illnesses, mental health conditions also vary in extreme. Approximately ½ of people in America are on an antidepressant or anti-anxiety medication every day. They may be your doctors, lawyers, teachers, mail delivery people, or grocers.  People with mental health problems are all around us: they are our friends, family, neighbors, and veterans. They are short, tall, large, small and everything in between!

What is mental illness? Mental illness can be anything from someone experiencing difficulty getting past grief but otherwise going about a relatively normal day to someone who has great difficulty getting out of bed or interacting with other people.

Problems occur in the way the brain functions for many reasons. Some due to biology, reactions to the environment, abusive upbringings, or, even poor diet. These types of problems in the brain can last anywhere from days to a lifetime. They can cause symptoms that may include sadness, loss of energy or appetite, clattery speech, an absence of a need to sleep, hearing voices or seeing things that are not there, or excessive worry and poor concentration.

People with mental illnesses are generally not violent. Some people who have difficulty controlling their anger or under the influence of street drugs may become violent, but the general population of people who have been diagnosed with mental illness are about equally likely to be violent as those who have not been diagnosed with a mental illness.

A great amount of mental illness can be managed by therapy and medication. Some on a short-term bases and others require life-long treatment. If you or someone you care about is experiencing symptoms of a mental illness, please seek an evaluation to determine what might be causing your symptoms.

The following are some names that you may recognize of people who have acknowledged their own mental illness:

  • Katherine Zeta-Jones, Jean Claude Van Damme, Carrie Fisher, Britney Spears and Jane Pauley suffer from bipolar disorder as did the late Patty Duke, Vivien Leigh, Vincent Van Gough, Virginia Woolf and Robin Williams. Many have died related to their mental illness, often self-medicating through drugs or alcohol. Whereas, other deaths were believed to have been responding to voices they heard such as Robin Williams.
  • Michael Phelps suffers from ADHD, as does Russel Brand, who also suffers from bipolar disorder and bulimia.
  • Nobel prize winner John Nash suffers from paranoid schizophrenia, as seen in the portrayal of him in “A Beautiful Mind,” where they demonstrated his symptoms of hallucinations, most commonly hearing voices.
  • Halle Berry suffered from depression and low self-esteem as did Angelina Jolie, who was also a cutter.
  • Barbara Streisand suffers from social anxiety, including horrible stage freight. So does Donny Osmond.
  • Howie Mandel has OCD. Howard Hughes, most known for his wealth, movie productions and aviation skills, suffered from extreme OCD which ultimately secluded him from the world, isolated him to his home and led him to overdose.
  • Princess Diana and Sir Elton John both suffered from bulimia. Sir Elton John also suffered from substance abuse problems as have many celebrities before him.
  • Unfortunately so many celebrities succumb to the pressures related to the industry and abuse substances, whether prescription or street drugs. So many have even died tragically from over-doses and many have likely had undiagnosed mental illness which they may have been trying to self-medicate: : Kurt Cobain, Janis Joplin, Jimmy Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Elvis Presley, John Belushi, Health Ledger, River Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Winehouse, Peter Sellers, Chris Farley, Whitney Houston, Howard Hughes, Michael Jackson and many more.

For more information, please contact the National Alliance on Mental Illness at  or your doctor or therapist for additional information. Please don’t let your problems get away from you.


For an assessment, you may contact us at Barnes & Klatt (847) 981-9200 x100.


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