Most people think about physical health when they consider health in general, and this makes sense. But it’s important to remember that our mental health is a large part of our overall well-being as well. Fortunately, an increasing number of people and agencies are realizing that looking at mental health is vital, and we are also collectively realizing that this area of well being often goes by the wayside.
The Realities of Mental Health in America
First, let’s start by saying that more than a fifth of Americans have some sort of mental health disorder at any given time during the year. Mental health disorders run the gamut from smaller, livable conditions, such as occasional depression or anxiety to serious, debilitating issues such as bipolar disorder.
Research in all areas of mental health are improving, and that’s the good news. The bad news starts with the fact that suicide rates have been creeping up in recent years. In the last 20 years, for example, suicide rates in young girls and teens have nearly doubled. This is a public health issue that must be addressed, and because it’s happening in such young people, the issue truly needs to be looked at for elementary kids, middle school students and high school students in addition to adults.
Another thing to be noted about mental health these days is that fact that mental health is expensive. For the whole of the nation, we spent over 200 billion dollars on mental health disorders in one recent year alone.
Finally, likely the biggest issue surrounding mental health right now is how much attention is paid to it where doctors and general health care are concerned. General practitioners do not tend to focus on mental health care even though they should. They may ask questions pertaining to overall mood, but the serious questions are rarely asked, and when patients do bring up something like depression or severe anxiety, the response from doctors is usually quick and fleeting, and the solutions are glossed over or vague.
On the individual level, we all should be sure to take a hard look at our own mental health and be our own best advocates.