Key Objectives to Improve Public Mental Health in the US
- Promote Open Discussion
- Maintaining a Healthy Diet and Lifestyle
- Sharper Focus on Youth Issues
- Funding for Research and Treatment
- Separate Prison and Mental Health Institutions
Signs of poor mental health are often harder to spot than those of physical ailments, but the impact on quality of life can be just as severe. The United States has grappled with the issue of mental health for decades on both a social and medical level. Unfortunately, there are still a lot of inadequacies in the current system. Many experts believe that several big changes are needed to reshape the issue of mental health in America and develop an infrastructure that serves the public need.
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Promote Open Discussion
Perhaps one of the most dangerous trends regarding mental health is the social stigma attached to diagnosed disorders. Many people suffering from a mood or behavioral disorder, like depression, are reluctant to discuss the problem with friends or family members. This hesitation may even discourage people from seeking proper diagnosis and treatment for their condition out of fear. Encouraging public awareness and discussion of mental health issues is a critical first step towards improving the system.
Maintaining a Healthy Diet and Lifestyle
Proper diet and exercise are basic tips for staying physically healthy, but they are also vital for maintaining good mental health. With many occupations and hobbies encouraging sedentary behavior, a large portion of the American population doesn’t maintain a lifestyle that fosters overall health. Some conditions can be greatly improved by simply adjusting lifestyle habits and many others can benefit from these changes.
Sharper Focus on Youth Issues
Suicide is a leading cause of death among young people around the world and this trend shows little signs of abating in the near future. Extreme social pressures and the physiological transition of puberty can mask the symptoms of an underlying mental health issue. It’s also possible for these conditions to emerge as a direct result of changes in the body, which can lead to a relatively sudden onset of symptoms. This means that kids need to understand the basics of mental health and when they should seek out help.
Funding for Research and Treatment
There are numerous pharmaceutical and other medical solutions to mental health disorders currently on the market, but that doesn’t necessarily mean better outcomes for patients. While some revolutionary treatments have emerged over the last decade, many new medications are simply improvements on old ones, according to Scientific American. Some of the big companies in the industry have even limited their research and development program in this area due to lack of results.
Separate Prison and Mental Health Institutions
Perhaps one of the biggest failings of mental health care in the United States is found in its relatively large prison populations. Some researchers have pointed out that the lack of federal and state-funded mental health institutions has contributed to the growing number of people behind bars. In fact, some experts estimate that there are around 10 times more people with mental health conditions in prison than there are in state hospitals.
Behavioral, emotional and cognitive disorders are incredibly complex issues, so there is no single solution that can address all of the concerns with the current system. While it may take some time to get it right, there are plenty of ways the American healthcare system can change to better accommodate those who need help managing an ongoing mental health condition.