Mental Health – What Do the Numbers Mean and How Do We Fix It?
It is rare to not know someone who has struggled with mental health issues. It may be depression, anxiety, trauma, or an eating disorder. It may be your spouse, child, friend, or maybe it is you. Regardless, we know that based on statistics, mental health issues are becoming more common.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that:
- In just the past 30 days, 3.9% of adults (18+) have experienced serious psychological distress
- In any two-week period, 7.6% of individuals ages 12+ have depression
- 8.4% of individuals ages 6-17 have been diagnosed with anxiety and/or depression
- In individuals ages 10-34, suicide is the second leading cause of death
Additionally, other agencies such as Mental Health America (MHA) report that over 44 million American adults are struggling with a mental illness. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has also reported that over 2.4 million adults are living with schizophrenia and another 6.1 million are living with bipolar disorder.
But what do all the numbers mean?
Experts agree that mental health issues continue to be a concern and that they range from minor to severe. And they agree that it is important to talk about mental health and break the stigma so those suffering will know there is help available. However, there is no direct cause contributing to the sharp increase in the numbers. Social media continues to be a dominant force in the uptick of depression and anxiety diagnosis and environmental toxins are becoming more prevalent as playing a role in mental health issues.
While mental health issues can impact someones overall well being – mentally, emotionally, socially, and financially, it is important to realize the impact on families, employers, and society. Serious mental illnesses cost the US $193.2 billion in lost earnings each year, and depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide. Organizations such as the CDC, MHA, NAMI, and others track these vital statistics for a better understanding of how each disorder moves through and affects different populations. These trends become a key part of public health in understanding changes over time and which issues need the most attention. MHA began the State of Mental Health America report to put mental health issues on the same level as physical health in terms of insurance reimbursement in hopes the hard data and figures would help in increasing coverage. However, one of the key findings was there is a shortage of workers to provide services, causing many individuals to go left untreated. For example, in Maine over 41% of adults are not being treated and in Hawaii that number just to 67%. Data and statistics can shed light on additional resources such as workers, programs, treatment, and affordable care for those in underserved communities.
What can be done about mental illness?
Although there are barriers to treatment for a mental illness, there are multiple levels of care available. Pasadena Villa offers a full continuum of care for adults suffering from mental health conditions such depressive disorders, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorders, bipolar disorder, Autism Spectrum Disorder, psychosis, and co-occurring substance disorder.
We use evidence-based treatment modalities, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), within a social integration framework. Combining relevant, real-life strategies with these therapeutic methods aid residents in assimilating into everyday life and regaining control of their lives. Residents often come to us with deep-rooted patterns of negative thinking, which often leads to debilitating mental illness such as severe depression, anxiety, phobias, and mood instability. The staff of Pasadena Villa is expertly trained to identify the negative patterns that have led to a disorder and kept the client from living life to the fullest. Our goal is to aid residents in acknowledging the cycle that has led to their illness and to help them understand that they have the power to take control of their thought patterns. Working off the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy triangle of thoughts, feelings, and actions, we have groups that are dedicated to helping teach residents how to not only see the negativity in their thinking but to implement lasting change that will help them achieve their goals.
In addition to working with the residents, our clinicians work closely with the families of our residents to help them understand not only the factors that have led to the instability of their loved one but to offer them education on the principles of CBT. Families often become stuck in the pattern of negativity surrounding the stress of having a loved one who is ill. Our goal with these families is to have them utilize the same techniques, acknowledge the negativity, take control of their thoughts, and implement lasting change that will benefit the family and the resident in their recovery.
When the residents of Pasadena Villa discharge they often express that they have benefited the most from learning that they have control over their thinking patterns. After intensely studying the principles of CBT with their therapy team, they leave with a greater understanding that thoughts do not have to predict actions, that feelings are valid and important to acknowledge, and that gaining autonomy over one’s life not only feels good but leads to wellness and success.