A new article from The Huffington Post just announced that an estimated one out of every five Americans suffers from a mental health disorder. Along those lines, it is estimated that mental health conditions cost about $1 trillion each year in treatment expenses around the world. The article attempts to bring awareness to mental health issues in the wake of World Mental Health Day so that these issues are seen as public health issues that are worthy of public discussion and a focus on prevention.
The article explains that even in 2016, many doctors around the world do not take mental health conditions as seriously as they do other disorders. This is a very serious concern because mental health disorders have the potential to culminate in suicide. Even though most mental illnesses are identified as chronic conditions, very few doctors actually engage in the type of consistent and thorough follow-ups that are required for proper treatment of a chronic illness. This means that many patients are left to either self-medicate or otherwise ignore the symptoms of their mental illness over time.
Although many celebrities have utilized their status to champion for more public awareness of mental health issues, there has not been an overwhelming amount of attention devoted to mental health issues in election cycles. It is very rarely talked about as the public health crisis that it actually is, and there are really no public policy reforms being suggested as a way to address mental illness on a nation-wide scale right now. By having public figures speak out about the prevalence of mental illness and that there is absolutely no shame in seeking treatment for it, there has been an increase in the level of general acceptance of mental illness as a problem to be discussed. As more public attention is devoted to mental health issues, there will be a greater demand for increases in funding for research to find new treatments for mental illness as well as for programs focused on the prevention of mental illness. The first step is in greater acceptance of this disorder as a common problem.