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Mental Health and the Lack of Care in America

Author: Disabled World

Published: 2012-12-19

Synopsis and Key Points:

Perhaps the best explanation of what mental health is involves how well a person copes with their daily life and the challenges it presents them.

Main Digest

Perhaps the best explanation of what mental health is involves how well a person copes with their daily life and the challenges it presents them.

"Stigma, ignorance, denial and other factors affecting clients, family members and professionals prevent treatment of an estimated 50% of mental disorders." - Mental Health America

The question of whether a person has experience a form of mental illness such as depression, knows someone who has experienced a form of mental health disorder or not is mute - everyone needs to be concerned about the issue of mental health. Everyone has, 'mental health,' and we might not think a lot about our mental health, or even use the phrase, but it is something that is a common element in everyone's lives. Some people define mental health as being a, 'state of mind,' while others perceive it as, 'a state of contentment with life,' or, 'feeling positive about yourself.'

Perhaps the best explanation of what mental health is involves how well a person copes with their daily life and the challenges it presents them. When a person's mental health is good, they have the ability to deal in more positive ways with the things they have to deal with in daily life such as challenges at work, home, and in daily living. When a person's mental health is poor, it may be difficult for them to function in their daily life. Mental health is a fluid state with untreated illness and disability at one end of the spectrum, and recovery and complete mental well-being at the other end. The majority of people live and move within the middle range of the mental health spectrum.

The majority of us simply take our mental health for granted; after all, it is such a basic and yet unseen part of who all essentially are. Mental health may not seem to merit much thought in comparison to everything else that is happening in our lives or the world as a whole. The fact is - mental health is a major factor in every aspect of every person's life. Mental health plays a part in our relationships, as well as how we perform at work, at school, at home, and in how we face other health issues.

In modern day America, protecting and strengthening our mental health is more important than ever before. Our nation has a fast paced, 24/7 culture where we face increasing amounts of stress from our daily lives than in the past. A number of people work extended hours or more than one job and take less vacation hours. A simple fact is that one out of three people in America is chronically overworked! The line between work life and home life is many times blurred for many people, so home is no longer a place of rest. People are also more disconnected from their family members, friends, and neighbors and are less engaged in their own communities than they used to be. Trust in others has declined at a steady pace over the last three decades. Children are not immune from these stress factors either, a number of children are racing from one activity to another without the relief of time to rest and relax.

Every person lives with these daily threats to their mental health. Many people also face even more challenges that test them and put their mental health at risk. For some, it involves the stress related to providing care for others, a divorce, losing a loved one, or losing a job. For others it may involve living with cancer, diabetes, hypertension, or an addiction to drugs or alcohol. Some people experience major illnesses such as depression, schizophrenia, or bipolar disorder. Others have survived domestic abuse, street crime, or a natural disaster.

Despite the source of the threat, it is the way a person is able to deal with the challenges they face that may positively or negatively impact their mental health and overall well-being. Considering all of the ways stress and challenges in life may affect people and society as a whole, the issue of mental health amounts to the largest public health and economic concern facing America today.

There are a number of different conditions that are recognized as forms of mental illnesses. The more common forms of mental illnesses include the following:

Eating Disorders: Eating disorders involve extreme attitudes, emotions, as well as behaviors surrounding food and weight. Anorexia nervosa, binge eating disorder, and bulimia nervosa are the more common forms of eating disorders.

Mood Disorders:
Mood disorders, also referred to as, 'affective disorders,' involve persistent feelings of sadness or periods of feeling overly happy, or fluctuations from extreme sadness to extreme happiness. The most common mood disorders include mania, depression, and bipolar disorder.

Psychotic Disorders: Psychotic disorders involve distortions in a person's thinking and awareness. Two of the most common symptoms of psychotic disorders are hallucinations - the experience of sounds or images that are not real such as hearing voices, and delusions - which are false beliefs that the person who is ill accepts as truth despite evidence to the contrary. Schizophrenia is one example of a psychotic disorder.

Impulse Control and Addiction Disorders:People who experience impulse control disorders do not have the ability to resist impulses or urges to perform acts that may be harmful to others or themselves. Pyromania, compulsive gambling, and kleptomania are examples of impulse control disorders. Drugs and alcohol are common objects of addictions. Many times, people who experience these forms of disorders become so involved with the objects of their addiction they start to ignore their relationships and responsibilities.

Personality Disorders: People with personality disorders experience extreme and inflexible personality traits that are distressing to the person and may cause issues at work, school, or in their social relationships. Even more, the person's pattern of thinking and behavior may significantly differ from social expectations and become so rigid they interfere with the person's usual functioning. Examples of personality disorders include antisocial personality disorder, paranoid personality disorder, and obsessive-compulsive personality disorder.

Anxiety Disorders: People who experience anxiety disorders respond to certain situations or objects with fear or dread, as well with physical signs of nervousness and anxiety such as a rapid heartbeat and sweating. An anxiety disorder is diagnosed if a person's response is inappropriate for a particular situation, if the person is unable to control their response, or if the anxiety interferes with their usual functioning. Anxiety disorders include post-traumatic stress disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and specific phobias.

The good news is that medical science has the knowledge and experience today to work with good mental health. The knowledge and experience has been more than evidenced and communicated during a White House conference on mental health, a President's Commission, Surgeon General's Reports, through the Institute of Medicine reports, and additional high-level venues. America has tested techniques that assist both children and adults with remaining resilient to and able to manage threats to their mental health. America has effective types of treatments that fight the symptoms of mental illness, and community programs that assist people with recovering more rapidly and get back to their lives. Our nation has model policies that are working to support long-term resilience, recover and empowerment. The only thing that is lacking is a national response that is sufficient to combat the magnitude of the issue.

National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) Statistics

Research on psychiatric epidemiology shows that mental disorders are common throughout the United States, affecting tens of millions of people each year, and that only a fraction of those affected receive treatment.

Mental Health Care in U.S. Questioned Amid Another Tragedy

The debate has also shifted attention to the mental state of the perpetrators of these heinous mass shootings and whether more needs to be done to improve mental health care in the United States amid an evident increase in these tragedies in recent years.

U.S. Adult Mental Illness Surveillance Report

A new CDC report describes the extent of mental illness among U.S. adults and recommends increased efforts to monitor mental illness and anxiety disorders.

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