Mental Health and Crisis Solutions in North Carolina
Mental health is an issue that impacts the lives of many Americans, and Extension agents and staff may encounter mental health concerns among the citizens they serve. But what is mental health? Merriam-Webster defines the idiom as “the condition of being sound mentally and emotionally that is characterized by the absence of mental illness and by adequate adjustment especially as reflected in feeling comfortable about oneself, positive feelings about others, and the ability to meet the demands of daily life; also : the general condition of one’s mental and emotional state.”
As days and decades have passed, more and more individuals have come to see the importance of this national issue. We know that a clean bill of health is essential to all human beings, however, the thought of this mainly refers to the physical state, as in the body and not the mind. Although both have the ability to affect each other significantly, mental health is not given as much attention as it should receive. Many people, most notably the younger generations, have voiced their concerns and vowed to fight the negative stigma surrounding the issue. Ignorance plagues the public opinion of many mental illnesses, such as depression, and dumbing them down to simply “being unable to handle life” or “just being in a funk.”
Why, though, is it so important to pay attention to the nation’s mental health? What’s the worst that could possibly happen if we just let it deal with itself? Youth and adults alike are forced to cope by using substances, self-harm, or even ending their own lives. Some, unfortunately, turn to taking the lives of others due to the amount of pain they’re in. In light of the recent and increasingly frequent school shootings, mental health is one of the most important issues the human race needs to take head on. Some key findings by Mental Health America (MHA) show the reality of the situation (http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/issues/state-mental-health-america):
- 1 in 5 Adults have a mental health condition. That’s over 40 million Americans; more than the populations of New York and Florida combined.
- Youth mental health is worsening. Rates of youth with severe depression increased from 5.9% in 2012 to 8.2% in 2015. Even with severe depression, 76% of youth are left with no or insufficient treatment
- More Americans have access to services… Access to insurance and treatment increased, as healthcare reform has reduced the rates of uninsured adults. The greatest decrease in uninsured Adults with mental illnesses was seen in states that expanded Medicaid.
- …But most Americans still lack access to care. 56% of American adults with a mental illness do not receive treatment. Even in Maine, the state with the best access, 41.4% of adults with a mental illness do not receive treatment.
- There is a serious mental health workforce shortage. In states with the lowest workforce, there is up 6 times the individuals to only 1 mental health professional. This includes psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, counselors, and psychiatric nurses combined.
*Information above compiled by Nick Wommack, Student Intern, EOD (Fall 2017)
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