Mental illness is a serious problem that plagues our society today. Every day we are faced with more issues surrounding this problem, and it seems as if no solution can be found. The lack of mental illness treatment has led to several horrible incidents, from school shootings to bombings around the world, it has become clear that something must be done to address this problem. But what can be done to solve this wicked problem? According to the Denver Post, “about 260,000 adults and children need treatment for the most severe mental illnesses—schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depression and serious emotional disturbances. Yet tens of thousands go without care; nationally, only about a third of people who need treatment get it.” From this quote we can discern that the problem itself may be coming strictly from a financial issue, but is it the only obstacle advocators for solving mental health face when trying to solve the problem?
Sadly, this is not the case. Public attitude towards those who have mental illnesses do not help in any way in solving the issue. Examples of this can be seen with news coverages of school shootings. Rather than focusing on the victims who passed away, the media tends to focus on the shooter, their background, and most importantly, their perceived mental illness. Such news coverage paints an ugly picture about mental illness in general and leads to public stigma against those who have mental disabilities. This injustice is caused not only by the retributive system that our society buys into, but also is started in our schools, as well as our homes.
In schools, this problem has been steadily rising over the years, according to BBC news, “In 2015-16, more than 15,000 UK-based first-year students disclosed mental health issues, Institute of Public Policy Research analysis suggests.” With data like this individuals are left to ask what we as a society are able to do in order to stem the flow of mental illness cases, or at the very least change the public stigma towards people with disabilities?
One of the proposed methods of stopping this issue is through funding. Colorado ranks at the bottom tier of states who prioritize funding for mental health facilities. The National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors found that, “Colorado funding for mental health services to the needy comes from a combination of state and federal funds including Medicaid. Most of the spending is on 17 community clinics throughout the state and two psychiatric hospitals in Denver and Pueblo.” While this may sound like a lot, most of the funding for mental health facilities across the nation tend to come specifically from insurance companies. As insurance companies go, they tend to give money to physical illnesses more so than mental ones. This in turn ties into public stigma of mental illnesses. It is often thought of as insignificant and not worthy to deal with, leading many to wonder where the people who believe in these statements got this false information in the first place. Regardless, this wicked problem is not a simple issue to solve; however, a couple of brave organizations have banded together to tackle mental health and its problems.
The first organization that focuses solely on trying to stem the flow of mental health issues is the Mayo clinic. The Mayo Clinic is a non-profit based medical practice and medical research group based in Minnesota. They have made it their organization goal to fight mental illness stigma in the community by frequently posting flyers, starting campaigns to bring more awareness to the community, and racking up donation funds to send to mental health clinics across the country. Their efforts have led to an increased understanding of psychological illnesses in the community, as well as more funding for clinics who desperately need the money.
Another organization that has been helping curb the flow of public stigma is Psychology Today, a magazine created solely to inform the public about news within the psychology community. This magazine can be found all over the place, with physical copies in libraries to digital copies online as well as a plethora of google ads advocating for the magazine. The topics within the magazine go over mental health issues as well as solutions to solving the various problems that plague the issue in the first place. The final organization that has created a significant increase in public awareness about mental illness is Mental Health America. They are an organization dedicated to providing support for individuals who suffer from mental illnesses. They offer counseling services as well as informational sessions for people who are confused about the topic and seek help navigating through it. Their main headquarters are based in Virginia but their reach spreads across the nation. These three organizations have together made a significant impact on making the world a better place for people who have mental illnesses and clinics who need support/ health.
We live in an interesting time where society is starting to realize its flaws and is struggling to correct itself. At our core, humanity cannot help but gravitate towards drama, something that the media does not help stopping at all. Mental illness affects our lives every second of every day. It is not enough that we talk about it in small groups in classrooms or go volunteer at a hospital once a week. We must take bigger actions and focus on making the world a better place. We can’t wait for the government to make laws to give funding to clinics, we should actively try to raise money for them in our own free time. No problem is impossible to solve, it’s our attitudes about it that matters at the end of the day.