The Increase of Mental Health Disorders in America (Research Paper)
COVID-19 has met its epidemical match—America’s rapidly emerging mental health crisis. Amid the gravity of a pandemic, worldwide isolation, and the most influential civil movement and election in American history, it’s hardly surprising that mental health is deteriorating more than ever. However, our nation’s intense grapple with mental health held prevalence years prior.
In the past three years, cases of mental illness among adults has increased by 1.5 million. This country’s failing mental health trend is nothing short of disturbing. Half of America’s adult populace has reported being diagnosed with a mental disorder at least once in their lives. One in five adults experience a mental illness each year, and the same ratio of children have experienced a debilitating mental ailment. These are more than statistics—these are heart-wrenching cries for help, and it is our obligation as humans to listen.
What Is Mental Health, And Why Is It Important?
Mental health embodies your emotive, psychological, and social well-being. It drives your actions and is an integral part of how your personality presents itself. Many environmental factors can influence your mental health, including trauma, severe stress, and bereavement. Persistent sadness, apathy, worry, severe mood swings, lethargy, social withdrawal, and changes in sleep or eating habits are clear indicators of a mental disorder.
We’re inclined to rank body over mind, but physical and mental health are interwoven aspects of one’s well-being, rendered inseparable in all means. One cannot be discussed without the other. Mental illness infiltrates every aspect of one’s life, even manifesting bodily. For example, generalized anxiety disorder has been linked to muscle tension, poor digestion, pains, vertigo, exhaustion, and breathing issues. Depression is associated with draining headaches and decreases in vision and pain tolerance.
Health is meaningless if mental health isn’t prioritized. Once overlooked, the effects of poor mental health trigger irreparable damage to family, society, and the healthcare system. Greater medical expenses, decreased performance at school and work, scarcer employment prospects and increased risk of suicide and substance abuse are only a few of the costs of leaving mental illnesses untreated.
Still, the focal issue lies in doctoring mental illness. 11% of Americans with a mental disorder are uninsured, displaying the first increase in uninsured citizens since the Affordable Care Act and signifying the Trump Administration’s effect on the healthcare system. More than half of youth did not receive treatment for their severe depression from 2017-2018. There is a clear lack of regard for those with mental illness, typically for one of two reasons: lack of qualified professionals and stigma.
Mental health is constantly euphemized and belittled, stifled by the burden of judgement and ignorance. Phrases like “I’m so OCD” when referring to everyday organizational habits or “I’m going to kill myself” when faced with a minor inconvenience sensationalizes mental illness, only marginalizing those living with true mental disorders.
So, be conscious of your language— diminishing mental illness by applying it to trivial life events, defining people by their mental disorder (“an anorexic person” rather than “a person with anorexia”), or mentioning mental disorder pejoratively is damaging, only exacerbating stigma.
What Can I Do?
Unlike our current pandemic, masking won’t alleviate this issue—in fact, exposure and visibility are how we must tackle it. We, as a community, have a responsibility to enact change and opening dialogue is the first course of action we must take. De-stigmatizing mental health by promoting awareness supplies individuals with the courage to seek help, enabling society to process mental issues constructively.
Extend compassion to not only loved ones, but strangers. It’s clichéd, but a small act of kindness can truly change lives. An effortless smile could possibly deter someone from injuring themselves by making them feel acknowledged and accepted. If you observe signs of a mental disorder in someone you know, recommend help and support them unconditionally.
The dominant focus of our objective at Here to Inspire is to reduce the mental health crisis by featuring free and low-cost counsel, coaching, and therapy for Broward County residents. Contributing to this purpose through volunteer work or donation elevates our community and assists our endeavor to appropriately tackle mental health complications.