Where Does Our State of Mental Health Go From Here?

By: Rukhsana Chaudhry, Psy.D.
Director of Mental Health Programming, AMPH

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According to the 2019 State of Mental Health in America report over 44 million American adults have a mental health condition. The rate of youth experiencing a mental health issue has continued to rise. Additionally, the report finds that 62% of teens and children with a major depressive episode received no treatment. While we know that intervention and treatment is of the utmost importance to reduce the impact of suffering from a mental health issue, most Americans still have no access to care. The report states that 12.2% (5.3 million) adults with a mental illness remain uninsured, and 56.4% of adults with a mental illness received no treatment (Mental Health America, 2018).

Additionally, according to the U.S. News and World Report statistics on mental health, a severe shortage of mental health clinicians adds to the problem. Today, we face a pandemic as a nation that has brought many of our lives as American Muslims and people of all backgrounds to a halt. We are coping with remarkable changes in our individual lives and all of us are experiencing the power of uncertainty on our mental health in an amplified manner. Further, many of us are coping with its associated changes, including serious financial implications for many households. According to the U.S. News and World Report, this alone can have profound consequences for our mental health (2019),

As a faith-based community and as a nation, we need to recognize the place that stress and trauma have in our lives. People who have suffered trauma previously are now further at risk for poor mental health outcomes that may include depression, anxiety, and additional traumatic responses. Isolation can aggravate much of what we feel that we have already been struggling with and can instill a sense of hopelessness. If you are a parent, you may find yourself experiencing impatience and anxiety about how your children’s lives will change now and in the future.

Therefore, it is the simple act of knowing that COVID-19 has become a threat to all our lives that will begin our healing journey as a country. If this becomes our starting point, then we can move toward resilience and growth which can come out of this experience. New learning will occur, if we let it. The question for us will be- can we finally turn our focus to mental health for all people, of all backgrounds, and socioeconomic status? If we do, we can begin by making sure the world understands how trauma works and what resilience looks like for each of us. It is not the same for every family or community. Resilience signifies that we have grown from the stressful experiences we have had. If we go back to our lives as they were instead of establishing new ways to live in the future, we will ultimately miss a golden opportunity at this moment. That golden opportunity entails the possibility of overcoming our struggle to identify, address, and de-stigmatize mental health for all of us. 

References

Hellebuyck, M., Halpern, M., Ngyuen, T. & Fritze, D. (2018, October 31). 2019 State Of Mental Health In America Report. Mental Health America. Retrieved from https://www.mhanational.org/research-reports/2019-state-mental-health-america-report 

Howley, E.K. (2019, July 10). A patient’s guide to mental health; Symptoms of and treatment for the most common types of mental health issues. U.S. News and World  Report.Retrieved from https://health.usnews.com/conditions/mental-health

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