We Need to Talk About Mental Health

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We need to talk about mental health. We need to talk about mental health even if makes us uncomfortable. We need to talk about mental health even if we want to ignore it. We need to talk about mental health in a manner that can’t be cut down to a thirty second sound bite. We need to talk about mental health the way we talk about physical, which is to say we need to talk about it seriously.

We need to talk about how more than half of American adults with mental illnesses receive no treatment. We need to talk about the barriers they face to receiving treatment. We need to talk about how quality treatment is cost prohibitive and how low-cost services are overwhelmed by people in need. We need to talk about how mental health professionals are being asked to do more with less even when it’s detrimental to their clients and to themselves.

We need to talk about the costs of mental health and not only the economic one. We need to talk about the social costs. We need to talk about the pain that people with mental illnesses live with and the pain their loved ones carry. We need to talk about caregiver burnout and the dangers it presents. We need to talk about suicide. We need to talk about child abuse. We need to talk about domestic violence.We need to talk about substance use. We need to talk about all the horrible things that are so often comorbidities of mental illness but no one is willing to acknowledge.

We need to talk about incarceration. We need to talk about the criminalization of mental illness. We need to talk about a criminal justice system that is not designed to meet the needs of people with mental illnesses. We need to talk about how the mentally ill were once warehoused in state hospitals and how they are now warehoused in state prisons. We need to talk about how instead of receiving treatment and rehabilitation they are simply punished and then released from prison only to return again because their symptoms are not managed.

We need to talk about the lack of crisis services. We need to talk about how calling 911 brings the cops to your door but not someone with mental health training to assess crises. We need to talk about how Emergency Rooms “treat them and street them” no matter the severity of symptoms or the risk of harm.

We need to talk about change and then we need to demand change.

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4 responses »

    • Absolutely. So much of this has to do with services being underfunded and it is very much a global issue. I firmly believe that access to quality healthcare is a human right, and that includes mental healthcare.

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