In the past, mental health awareness, support and funding to prevent and treat these often serious and life-changing medical conditions have lagged far behind in our health care system.
Meanwhile, the need continues to grow dramatically. Indeed, statistics show that nearly 50% of all Americans will develop some kind of a mental health condition during their lifetimes. 1 in 5 will have some kind of mental health issue in any given year — over 43 million people, with women somewhat more likely than men to be affected. Half of all mental disorders begin by age 14 and three-quarters by age 24. Suicide has risen to be the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. overall and is the 2nd leading cause of death for people ages 10-34, trailing only traffic accidents. In fact, the overall suicide rate in America has skyrocketed since 1999 — up 33%.
Despite all of this, societally, we fund traffic safety, cancer research, heart and cardiovascular disease, diabetes, AIDS and many, many others diseases and health conditions in comparatively significant amounts and these are certainly worthy causes. Yet, mental health care, diagnosis, treatment and prevention funding and care simply does not get the same level of attention, support or funds.
Perhaps this is due to the long-time stigma and negative perceptions often associated with mental health issues. Perhaps it is due to wrong thinking that somehow mental illness or mental health conditions are a matter of choice by the one suffering.
Fortunately, some of those antiquated thoughts and ideas are slowly changing as the enormity of the costs — both in human and financial terms — from the substantial gaps in the mental health care system become more and more evident. Depression and related issues are now the leading cause of disability with major depressive disorders resulting in an estimated $210.5 billion in economic impact from absenteeism, decreased productivity and other costs, not to mention resulting in countless damaged and even shattered lives and families. Estimates indicate that as much as 50% of the prison population in the United States has some kind of mental illness or health condition.
Despite the obviousness, size and scope of the problem, budget pressures and political haggling and divisiveness continue and mental health funding continues to be left far behind while this looming societal mental health crisis simply gets worse. Funding is cut, not increased.
Treatment options and programs shrink, outright close or are forced to reduce even the very basic care they presently provide. Facilities and mental health care resources find themselves financially strapped or unable to operate at all. Prevention efforts and programs lag, are cut back and even disappear due to underfunding. Continued insurance industry resistance to truly put coverage for mental health care on an equal footing with other diseases means that, too often, mental health care seems to be a neglected stepchild in our health care system.
33 Forever’s mission and goals include advocating for improvement of these issues and for local, state and federal funding and support of the mental health care system and for the millions of people who desperately need its services to live normal, happy and productive lives. In addition, 33 Forever also advocates for fair, reasonable and non discriminatory insurance coverage — both public and private — for mental health care, treatment and prevention. Those advocacy efforts have already begun on both the state level (in Ohio) and on the federal level, will continue and will increase.
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National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Text: MHA to 741741
From anywhere in the US