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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Mental Health in America

Mental illness affects all people from all walks of life, from adolescents on the playground to people beginning their retirement. There is no age requirement for mental illness and there is no way to tell when it will set in. Health professionals have come a long way in the last decade but the problem continues to get larger as more and more people are not receiving adequate, if any, treatment.

A new government study has shown that nearly half of all Americans will experience some form of mental illness during the course of their life. Common forms of mental illness include:
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Post-Traumatic Stress
  • Suicidal Thoughts

It is clear to health officials that there are "unacceptably high levels of mental illness in the United States," said Ileana Arias, principal deputy director of the CDC. "Essentially, about 25 percent of adult Americans reported having a mental illness in the previous year. In addition to the high level, we were surprised by the cost associated with that - we estimated about $300 billion in 2002."

A survey conducted in 2009 by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration determined that 11 million people, nearly five percent of the population, dealt with severe mental illness problems during the past year. According to the report, there were 8.4 million Americans that had experienced suicidal thoughts in the past year and 2.2 million made plans to follow through - one million attempted suicide.

One thing remains clear, people are not receiving the help that they need, and they are being overlooked by a health system that is clearly broken. Society still does not grasp the fact that mental illness is no different than any other medical affliction and should be treated no differently. Everyone deserves the same caliber of health care - no exceptions. The longer people are inadequately treated the larger the problem will become until it is completely out of control. People not being treated typically turn to drugs and alcohol to cope with their problem, opening a new avenue for problems to arise.

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