Beacon Health Options offers questions to ask and answer during Mental Health Awareness Month

BOSTON – May 16, 2019 – An astonishing 1 in 5 Americans will face some form of mental illness this year.Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., with more than 40 million lives affected. Additionally, about 16 million Americans have major depression. However, despite the prevalence of mental health conditions, only about a third of Americans seek treatment. Just as other illnesses – such as high blood pressure or diabetes – are treatable and manageable, so too are mental health issues.

To raise awareness about these and other mental health conditions and the stigma attached to them, May has been designated as Mental Health Awareness Month.

“At Beacon Health Options, our entire focus is on mental and behavioral health, because that’s all we do — not just during the month of May but year round,” said Russell C. Petrella, Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer, Beacon Health Options.

“We are facing a mental health crisis in the United States – a situation that is unsustainable. While the number of people impacted by some form of mental illness continues to rise, more than 77 percent of the counties in the U.S. face a behavioral health provider shortage,” continued Petrella.

Americans are spending more on mental illnesses than heart disease, cancer or diabetes. In fact, mental illness is the most expensive – costing Americans more than $201 billion a year, through such items as prescription medication, therapy sessions and more. Yet there are ways to curb costs and improve health outcomes. “By removing the stigma associated with mental illness and starting conversations that matter, with those who matter, we can identify and treat issues earlier,” stated Petrella.

Mental Illness: What You Need to Know

Mental health issues, which can include anxiety, depression, familial relationships, stress and more, have become increasingly prevalent in today’s fast-paced, less personal world.

Mental illnesses can be caused by various factors, including a reaction to trauma, environmental stresses, genetic disposition, chemical imbalances and more. Patients and their families should take an active approach to their care and treatment by understanding their diagnosis, managing their symptoms, asking questions to their provider, and educating and motivating others.

Potential Symptoms of Mental Illness

There are many factors to consider when deciding if mental health services are appropriate for you or a loved one, including:

  • Do you have difficulty sleeping, either too much or too little?
  • Have you been sad or depressed for a long period of time?
  • Have your relationships with loved ones changed?
  • Do you ever do things without knowing why you did them?
  • Do you ever hear or see things that other people do not?
  • Have you ever had thoughts of suicide?
  • Do you get nervous or angry easily?
  • Are you often anxious or afraid?
  • Do you drink a lot of alcohol or take street drugs?

While these issues alone can’t predict mental illness, if several of them are occurring it may be helpful to follow up with a doctor or mental health professional.

Questions to Ask Your Doctor

Once you’ve made the decision to reach out to your provider, bring a family member or friend with you to the appointment for support. Don’t be afraid to ask the doctor questions, such as:

  • What type of mental health problem do I have?
  • Can I get over it by myself, or will I require counseling, therapy or medication?
  • How do you treat this condition?
  • Do you have any brochures or websites that might provide more detail on the diagnosis?
  • How long will my treatment take?
  • What can I do to help myself?

“We all must understand more about mental illness; ask the right questions, of ourselves and our doctors; and provide linkages among providers, support organizations, policymakers, state agencies, and others. Doing so will enable us to deliver services and treatments in the most clinically appropriate and cost-effective manner and help individuals live their lives to the fullest potential,” said Petrella.

For more information about Beacon Health Options, please visit

About Beacon Health Options

Beacon Health Options is a leading behavioral health services company that serves 40 million individuals across all 50 states. We work with employers, health plans and government agencies to provide robust mental health and addiction services through innovative programs and solutions that improve the health and wellness of people every day. Beacon is a national leader in the fields of mental and emotional wellbeing, addiction, recovery, and employee health. Collaborating with a network of providers in communities around the country, we help individuals live their lives to the fullest potential. For more information, visit and connect with us on, and