Why is mental health not taken seriously?

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI):

  • One in every five adults in the U.S. experiences a mental illness every year;
  • One in 20 adults experience a serious mental illness every year;
  • One in six youth, aged between 6 and 17 years, experiences a mental health disorder every year

This means that:

  • 20 percent (approximately) of the U.S. population is affected by mental health disorders every year;
  • 2 percent adults experience a serious mental health condition every year;
  • 5 percent of the youth, aged between 6 and 17 years, experiences a mental health disorder every year.

Yet, less than half of these people seek or receive treatment. In fact, the average delay time between the onset of the mental illness and treatment is 11 years.

Why does this happen?

Since the ancient times, mental health illnesses have been perceived as either a character or moral flaw. They have been seen as a reflection of the poor lifestyle choices or personal weaknesses. The thoughts that a person suffering from a mental health experiences or the type of behavior they exhibit have always been questioned and have failed to find medical legitimacy. This thought process has ensured that we, as a society, have learnt to overlook mental health disorders. This has made us ill-prepared to tackle these disorders at the same level as physical disorders.

This is suggested by the fact that:

  • Majority of the emergency departments in the U.S. are not equipped to handle a mental health crisis. In fact, they cannot even deal with mental health disorders caused by some other crisis such as the currently prevalent corona pandemic.
  • Before the passage of the mental health parity law, insurance companies did not even consider covering mental health disorders in their insurance plans. Even now, mental health care is viewed as an add-on to standard care rather than as a part of it. This is the reason why mental health patients till now are treated in asylums, outside traditional care.
  • In spite of multiple organizations and famous personalities working towards de-stigmatizing mental health problems, people suffering from these still feel the sting of the associated stigma.

Mental illnesses should be treated like any other physical illness

Mental illnesses, just like physical illnesses, have a biological basis. Just like there is a cause behind physical illness, there are reasons behind a mental illness also.

A mental disorder can deeply alter the perception of the self, especially in severe cases like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and other such diseases. The kind of experiences that a person battling a mental illness suffers can change their thought process, emotions, and perceptions about not only themselves, but the world also.

One of the reasons why humans are unable to treat mental illnesses at par with physical illnesses is because the workings of the brain are still a mystery. In spite of the scientific and technological advancements seen by our society, it is difficult to understand and explain how psychiatric treatments work. This is the reason why it is difficult for the humans to understand mental health disorders, what causes them, how and where to seek help for them, and how they are treated.

Seeking help for mental health disorders

However, the landscape of mental health treatment is changing with the changing dynamics. Today, many institutions have developed the ability to treat mental health disorders the same way as they treat physical ailment. In fact, slowly mental health treatment is being integrated with traditional treatment.

If you or someone you know is struggling with a mental health disorder, get in touch with Medical Concierge. Our trained supervisors can help choose the right mental health treatment program customized to suit your needs and requirements. Call our 24/7 helpline number 877-636-0042 to gain access to details of mental health treatment centers in California. You can even chat online with one of our trained representatives to know more about residential mental health facilities in California.

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