Let's start with the question. what is mental health? "Mental health includes emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood. Throughout the course of your life, if you experience mental health problems, your thinking, mood, and behavior could be affected. Many factors contribute to mental health problems, including biological factors, such as genes or brain chemistry, life experiences, such as trauma or abuse, family history of mental health problems. Mental health problems are common but the good news is that help is available. People with mental health problems can get better and many recover completely." But new treatments and recovery are only possible when the stigma of mental health is stripped away and humans are no longer ashamed to talk openly about mental health illnesses.
I have compiled for you a few educational facts about mental health that I'd like to share with you today.
1. Around 20% of the world's children and adolescents have mental disorders or problems. About half of mental disorders begin before the age of 14. Similar types of disorders are being reported across cultures. Neuropsychiatric disorders are among the leading causes of worldwide disability in young people. Yet, regions of the world with the highest percentage of population under the age of 19 have the poorest level of mental health resources. Most low- and middle-income countries have only one child psychiatrist for every 1 to 4 million people.
2. Mental and substance use disorders are the leading cause of disability around the world. About 23% of all years lost because of disability is caused by mental and substance use disorders.
3. About 800,000 humans commit suicide every year. Over 800 000 people die due to suicide every year and suicide is the second leading cause of death in 15-29-year-olds. There are indications that for each adult who died of suicide there may have been more than 20 others attempting suicide. 75% of suicides occur in low- and middle-income countries. Mental disorders and harmful use of alcohol contribute to many suicides around the world. Early identification and effective management are key to ensuring that people receive the care they need.
4. War and natural disasters have a large impact on mental health and psychological well-being. Rates of mental disorder tend to double after emergencies. Recent studies have shown that students in schools where gun violence has occurred are now showing an increase in depression, drug abuse, and discipline problems.
5. Mental disorders are important risk factors for other diseases, as well as unintentional and intentional injury. Mental disorders increase the risk of getting ill from other diseases such as HIV, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and vice-versa.
6. Stigma and discrimination against patients and families prevent people from seeking mental health care. Misunderstanding and stigma surrounding mental health illnesses are widespread. Despite the existence of effective treatments for mental disorders, there is a belief that they are untreatable or that people with mental disorders are difficult, not intelligent, or incapable of making decisions. This stigma can lead to abuse, rejection, and isolation and exclude people from health care or support. Within the health system, people are too often treated in institutions which resemble human warehouses rather than places of healing.
7. Human rights violations of people with mental and psychosocial disabilities are routinely reported in most countries. These include physical restraint, seclusion, and denial of basic needs and privacy. Few countries have a legal framework that adequately protects the rights of people with mental disorders.
8. Globally, there is a huge inequality in the distribution of skilled human resources for mental health. Shortages of psychiatrists, psychiatric nurses, psychologists, and social workers are among the main barriers to providing treatment and care in low- and middle-income countries. Low-income countries have 0.05 psychiatrists and 0.42 nurses per 100 000 people. The rate of psychiatrists in high-income countries is 170 times greater and for nurses is 70 times greater.
9. There are five key barriers to increasing mental health services availability. In order to increase the availability of mental health services, there are 5 key barriers that need to be overcome: the absence of mental health from the public health agenda and the implications for funding; the current organization of mental health services; lack of integration within primary care; inadequate human resources for mental health; and lack of public mental health leadership.
10. Financial resources to increase services are relatively modest. Governments, donors and groups representing mental health service users and their families need to work together to increase mental health services, especially in low- and middle-income countries. The financial resources needed are relatively modest: US$ 2 per capita per year in low-income countries and US$ 3-4 in lower-middle-income countries.
There are new non-drug treatments for depression and trauma treatment that are being developed. Some are already available and on the market. The problem is, most insurance companies won't cover them....even though they are proven to work. Humans suffering from mental health disorders are being denied good treatment options due to cost and insurance companies' reluctance to approve anything that isn't a medication manufactured by Big Pharma. I could write for days on this subject but I'll wind up this blog by saying that mental health is a disease like cancer or diabetes. There are effective ways to treat and cure these mental health illnesses but treatments only work when those affected seek help. That means it is of the utmost importance to shed light on mental health problems and make it safe and acceptable for humans to seek the health they need. In many urban counties in the U.S., the prison system has become the largest provider of mental health.
I hope that each of you will make today the day you talk to your family members, coworkers, and neighbors about mental health. Let them know that help is available that it's okay to ask for help.
Please join me back here again tomorrow when I'll be honoring farmers everywhere. Saturday is National Farmers Day and I have some fun facts for you that I know you'll want to read. Until then, stay well and stay safe.