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Mental Health Awareness Week: Evolving past stigmas and providing more care options

Posted on 10-06-14 in Mental Health

Mental Health Awareness Week: Evolving past stigmas and providing more care options

Mental health awareness week was established in 1990 by the U.S. Congress in recognition of efforts by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) to educate and increase awareness about mental illnesses. It takes place every year during the first full week of October. Organizations across the United States join together to sponsor a variety of events to promote community outreach and public education relating to mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, panic disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, schizophrenia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

An estimated 26.2 percent of Americans ages 18 and older, about one in four adults, suffer from a diagnosable mental illness in any given year. People suffering from mental health disorders have long endured the stigma which has sadly been attached to it.

However, attitudes are slowly changing thanks to the surge in social media such as Facebook and Twitter. News and information is at everyone’s fingertips, educating people and changing mentalities.

Treatment for mental health disorders has made great strides in recent years. One of the oldest forms of mental health treatment – psychotherapy, or verbal therapy – is still commonly used, but not always the most effective treatment. Many successful types of behavioral therapy are now in use and are employed depending upon the patient’s symptoms. Medications can be prescribed to target specific symptoms while often allowing the patient to continue their daily life.

For those in need of long-term treatment, there are many residential treatment centers available. Patients live comfortably during their stay and in addition to therapy and/or medication, usually are able to engage in therapeutic activities such as equine therapy, art, music, yoga, meditation, exercise and nutritional counseling. The patient’s family is included in the process and is very much involved in the continuing care of the patient.

The neglect of mental illness exacts a huge toll economically as well as on individuals. People with low incomes are especially in need. One in six adults living at or just above the poverty line or lower has severe mental health problems. Without access to affordable treatment, many have difficulty holding down a job and do not qualify as formally disabled, locking them out of insurance coverage. A recent study in California found that only 32 percent of uninsured residents with mental illnesses received any treatment at all, and that less than 12 percent got adequate help.

Untreated mental illness in the U.S. costs more than $100 billion a year in lost productivity according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). Hospitals and clinics must cope with associated chronic physical diseases and schools have to open more special education classes. Courts and jails also deal with a large number of individuals who suffer from untreated mental illnesses.

Mental health disorders can often lead to suicidal tendencies, especially with the lack of resources available to seek treatment. Suicide ranks among the top 15 most common causes of death in the U.S. (in the top three among young people), with 90 percent of cases that can be attributed to mental illness.

In 2013, the Obama administration allocated $100 million for mental health services, $50 million to community health centers and $50 million to improve mental health care in rural areas. The president also proposed an additional $130 million in his 2014 budget for teacher training and awareness about the signs of mental illness in youth. It is well known that the earlier treatment begins for mental health disorders, the better the outcome.

President Obama’s Affordable Care Act requires that insurance plans offer behavioral health coverage for mental health and substance abuse as an “essential health benefit.” At least 3.7 million Americans who are currently living with severe mental illness will get new benefits for their conditions either through extended Medicaid coverage or insurance exchanges.

Sovereign Health Group specializes in the treatment of mental health disorders. Our goal is to provide care and treatment that leads to the best possible outcome for patients. If you would like further information on our mental health treatment programs or the financial options available to you, please call 888-530-4614 to speak with a member of our admissions team.