Reflecting on America's Mental Health in 2020
Published on Oct 10, 2020. Updated on Oct 9, 2020.
October 10 is Mental Health Day, a sobering day for reflection in the best of years, and one that has gained heightened significance in 2020. In today’s blog, Osmosis Faculty Reviewer, Abimbola Farinde, PhD, PharmD, assesses the state of mental health in America and the goal ahead for individuals struggling with their diagnosis.
Mental health in America
The past several years have been tumultuous and revealing of the state of American mental health. The pain and sadness that come with watching a loved one struggle with mental health issues is a much more common experience. And it’s no surprise that, with the spread of COVID-19, things haven't gotten better. In fact, it’s commonly argued that we are collectively in the throes of a mental health pandemic—the issue is that widespread.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it’s estimated that 50% of all Americans are diagnosed with a mental illness or disorder at some point in their life. Sadly, we can assume this is an underestimation. Mental health diagnostic standards have changed over time, and many people who may have come forward initially with issues and were misdiagnosed or under-diagnosed are now receiving greater focus and attention.
Although mental health and its treatment have been receiving more attention within the last five to ten years, the portrayal is still often negative and rooted in stereotypes. Most Americans see mental health as it is presented in entertainment, which doesn't always paint the best or most complete picture. This has come as a result of events that have taken place in clear light in the United States in recent years. Among the reasons for this include increases in funding for mental health treatment and, more negatively, public acts of violence linked to mental illness.
Being diagnosed with a mental disorder in America
Receiving a mental health disorder diagnosis is hard! A person must overcome many barriers, from social disparities, to finding a provider their insurance will cover. Not only is securing a diagnosis difficult, but so is the attempt to obtain—and maintain—an adequate course of treatment.
Some of the barriers keeping people from receiving their treatment are the lack of access to healthcare services, financial status, and denial of their diagnosis by loved ones (or themselves). Many people struggle personally to accept their mental disorder, and the social stigma around mental health does not make it easier. Most individuals find it hard to talk about their diagnosis, even with family and friends.
Unfortunately, due to the circumstances mentioned above, one possible outcome is that patients may choose to forgo treatment for a long time and suffer the symptoms of their diagnosis in silence. The decision to not seek treatment can ultimately prove to be seriously detrimental to the overall functioning and performing activities of daily living for the patient and their loved ones.
In the past, mental health has been largely associated with both stigma and scrutiny. This can be connected with a lack of correct information about the signs/symptoms of the condition, definitive understanding of the origin of some of these conditions such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, or the lack of adequate treatment being provided to manage the condition.
With time there has been a movement toward deinstitutionalization as a means of allowing people with mental illnesses to live and have some degree of normalcy by engaging in public life.
The goal for mental health in America
Whether the approach to treatment is the combination of medical and non-medical intervention, or one is selected over another, the goal is to achieve functionality and manage the symptoms that can be associated with mental health conditions.
For most people, daily management of symptoms of any type of mental illness is the key to continued sustainability. Having the support of friends and family can also assist with achieving this outcome.
The ultimate goal is to strive to move each person who is diagnosed with a mental disorder towards achieving stability of symptoms, and providing them the full opportunity to live and function similarly to others in the general population.If you are struggling with mental health issues or have thought of taking your life, please seek help from a friend or family member, or call a hotline in your country.
About Abimbola Farinde, PhD , PharmD
Abimbola Farinde is a clinical pharmacy specialist who has gained a wealth of knowledge experience in the field and practice of psychopharmacology/mental health since graduating from pharmacy school. Dr. Farinde earned her Doctor of Pharmacy degree from Texas Southern University and went on to complete her post-graduate training as a generalist and specialist in psychopharmacology. Her research interests focus on the elderly population and the identification and treatment of neurological and psychiatric disorders in this population.
Dr. Farinde has worked as a clinical specialist for the Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center in Fort Hood. She worked with active duty soldiers with dual diagnoses of a traumatic brain injury and a psychiatric disorder providing medication therapy management and disease state management. Dr. Farinde has also worked with mentally impaired and developmentally disabled individuals at a state supported living center. Her different clinical practice experiences have allowed her to develop and enhance her skills over the years.
Dr. Farinde always strives to maintain a commitment towards achieving professional growth as she transitions from one phase of her career to the next. In her spare time she enjoys hiking, bike riding, and painting.
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