In the last fifty years, there has been a great amount of research that pertains to mental health. In regards to mental health, it is clear that there should be a better approach to mental health as a whole. To gain a better grasp on the lack of mental health care, it is necessary to know the trends and statistics of suicide in adolescents in the US, the role that school and family have in regards to mental health, and the programs and policies that might help treat or assist the treatment of young people affected by mental health illness. By touching on those three points, it is possible to further understand the importance of combatting the lack of mental health care in the US.
To start, it is important to take a look at the statistical evidence and trends that adolescent suicide rates have been at in recent years. In the article “Increase in Suicide in the United States, 1999-2014,” Sally Curtin and her colleagues discuss the fact that suicide is an important health issue with the support of statistical evidence. Though it was believed that suicide was on a downward trend not too long ago, “suicide rates [have] increased almost steadily from 1999 through 2014” (Curtin et al. 1). With that, it is important to understand what the numbers are behind this. “From 1999 through 2014, the age-adjusted suicide rate in the United Stated increased 24% from 10.5 to 13.0 per 100,000 population.” (Curtin et al. 1). Being that there has been such a great increase in the number of suicides in the age-range of adolescents, it is clear that there must be something done to combat it as soon as possible.
To follow, it is important to understand that there are ways to educate the youth and help treat some of their mental health needs before more serious measure must be taken. The solution may come directly from parents and schools that these young people encounter nearly every day. Throughout the article “Supporting Children’s Mental Health in School: Teacher Perception of Needs, Roles, and Barriers,” by Wendy Reinke and her colleagues, mental health interventions in schools are discussed in further detail. The article goes on to explain the teacher perspective and contextual influences that can explain school-based mental health practices (Reinke et al. 1). An issue that Reinke mentions is that many students are not treated at all (1). In some cases, it is because their mental health issues are not noticed (Reinke et al. 1). However, in other cases, it is because there is no real mental health care provided for them (Reinke et al. 1). As a result of the recent research regarding the mental health concerns of these young people, there have been many responses to the need for a more expanded mental health service system for them. It is necessary for teachers to be educated in the field of mental health signs and symptoms. In its simplest form, school can be a stressful environment for any student, which makes it imperative for teachers to learn how to catch the mental health signs themselves. After further research, Reinke found that “an overwhelming majority [of teachers] agreed that schools should be involved” (6). The research also found that only 6% of teachers disagreed (Reinke et al. 6). So, as it seems, it is clear that people are on board for mental health intervention in schools. There just needs to be more initiative to make it all happen.
Next, it is crucial to discuss how the stigma attached to mental health care affects people. First off, the stigma attached to mental health care will be explained in further detail. In an article called “How Stigma Interferes With Mental Health Care” by Patrick Corrigan, the stigma is explained thoroughly. Corrigan goes on to explain that there are two stigmas which have directly affected persons seeking mental health care. The first stigma discussed is “Public-Stigma.” The public-stigma stereotype, which often comes along with mental health, is that “[a]ll people with mental health illness are dangerous” (Corrigan 617). With a more in-depth range of knowledge, it is obvious that this is not true. However, the judgement placed on people with mental health illnesses is not helped at all by the public-stigma discrimination that comes along with ignorance. In many cases, people immediately jump to the conclusion that “[they] do not want to be near [people with mental health illnesses]” (Corrigan 617). This is why people often do not reach out. Most times, it is because they do not want to be judged by others. The second stigma that is brought forth is “Self-stigma.” The self-stigma stereotype, which is most often believed, is that “[a]ll people with mental health illness are incompetent” (Corrigan 617). This, however, is not the case. There are countless people who have been successful in their lives regardless of their mental health illnesses. As seen, it is important to understand that stereotypes and discrimination are some of the driving forces behind people not seeking mental health care. This is why it is important to try to break the stigma down and help people see that it is okay to be treated for mental health illness.
Lastly, there are many new policies that help people get treatment and receive the services that are needed at an affordable rate. In an article by Kirsten Berenio and her colleagues, the Affordable Care Act is explained in great detail. The article explains that the Affordable Care Act “requires group health plans and insurers that offer mental health and substance use disorder benefits to provide coverage that is comparable to coverage for general medical and surgical care” (Berenio et al. 1). With the passing of this new act in 2014, it is possible for people, who would have not been able to financially afford healthcare, to receive mental health care and be treated by healthcare professionals. The Affordable Care Act can be one of the most influential acts, which has been implemented into the past fifty years, if it can be utilized to its maximum potential, help to eliminate the stigma attached to mental health care, and help to reverse the trends of suicide in the US.
To close, there are many aspects that go into mental health care in the US. Being that there are educational gaps, social stigmas, and even financial barriers, it is imperative that something must be done to stop adolescent trends of mental health illness from climbing any further. This is possible if people, who are equipped with the right knowledge, reach out and take a step towards providing better mental health care for people in need. It is not easy for some with a mental health illness to seek help. Because of that, it is always good to assist them in finding treatment as needed. Mental health illness is something that cannot be taken lightly. With the lack of mental health care that exist today, many people have taken their own lives as a result. Suicide is a top ten cause of death in the US and is unacceptable. By taking a stand and supporting those who suffer, hopefully the rates of suicide can decrease in the future.
Beronio, Kirsten, et al. “Affordable Care Act will expand mental health and substance use disorder benefits and parity protections for 62 million Americans.” Mental Health 2 (2014).
Corrigan, Patrick. “How stigma interferes with mental health care.” American psychologist 59.7 (2004): 614.
Curtin, Sally C., Margaret Warner, and Holly Hedegaard. “Increase in suicide in the United States, 1999–2014.” (2016).
O’Carroll, Patrick W., Lloyd B. Potter, and James A. Mercy. “Programs for the prevention of suicide among adolescents and young adults.” Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report: Recommendations and Reports (1994): 1-7.
Reinke, Wendy M., et al. “Supporting children’s mental health in schools: Teacher perceptions of needs, roles, and barriers.” School Psychology Quarterly 26.1 (2011): 1.