DISCLAIMER: I was honestly a bit hesitant to write on this topic since it is more my brother’s story to tell than mine, however it needs to be discussed. We need major reform in the mental health system in America.I know I am mainly focusing on the youth/adolescent aspect of the mental health system, and it is even worse for adults, but that's what I am more knowledgeable and have more experience with.
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1 in 5 teenagers, aged 13 to 18, have or will have a serious mental illness (nami.org)
Suicide is the third leading cause of death in youth aged 10 to 24 years old (nami.org)
70% of youth in state and local juvenile justice systems have a mental illness (nami.org)
1 in 4 adults also experience a mental health disorder in a given year (huffingtonpost.com)
1 in 25 adults live with a severe mental illness (nami.org)
Approximately 26% of homeless adults living in a shelter live with a serious mental illness (nami.org)
Approximately 24% of state prisoners have had a recent history of a mental health condition (nami.org)
7 people per hour in America die from suicide (huffingtonpost.com)
90% of people who commit suicide had a mental health disorder
Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in America (nami.org)
60% of adults with a mental illness did not receive treatment within the previous year (nami.org)
50% of youth, aged 8 to 15 years old, with a mental illness, did not receive treatment within the previous year (nami.org)
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With a high prevalence of mental illness in America, why is there such a lack of accessible treatment? Even getting diagnosed in America can be a struggle, especially with children. We were told many things such as “he will grow out of it” and “it’s just a phase” by doctors. Well, he didn’t grow out of it, and it was not just a phase. Once diagnosed, the struggle is not over. Try to find a therapist that will accept adolescents, let alone a therapist that is covered by your health insurance. Even when the health insurance company says that it will cover therapy and treatment, they will still argue and try to say whatever period of time it had been had been enough to treat the disorder. If further treatment is needed, such as a residential program, there are even fewer options, and insurance is even less likely to cover it. They state that these programs are not necessary, and therefore won’t cover it. Reagan’s closing of mental health facilities and the cut of federal funding led to the massive amount of people suffering from mental illnesses without treatment. More funding needs to be allocated to the mental health system and insurance companies need to be forced to pay for these treatments, just as they would pay for treatment for a “normal” medical illness. While the stigma is slowly fading, it is still there, some people don't understand why people with mental illnesses can't just "get over it". People still commonly say "I was so depressed yesterday" when they really were not, "she's so bipolar", and "I'm so OCD". Society still uses mental health disorders as adjectives, when they are not. Change needs to happen in society and government, and it needs to happen soon.