At a time when there is much conversation about the need for health care reform, let’s make sure mental health is included in the conversation. People suffering from psychological or mental health issues are still stigmatized in our country. The numbers of those impacted are high but the resources for treatment are shrinking.
One in four Americans experience mental illness at some point in their lives. The most serious conditions affect 10.6 million people. Mental illness is the greatest cause of disability in the nation, and twice as many Americans live with schizophrenia than with HIV/AIDS.
As a psychologist in Illinois I am saddened yet not surprised to see our state among those with a D. I have been very aware of the closing of community mental health centers and the scarcity of services available to those most in need.
As a trauma therapist, I am well aware of the impact that childhood abuse, neglect and exposure to violence have on not only mental but physical health. For example, a long-term study of more than 3,000 middle-aged women discovered that women abused as children spent up to one-third more than average in health-care costs. Any comprehensive health care reform must take all of this into account.