Letter: It is essential to increase access to mental health care

Letter to the editor

I am writing to express my concerns surrounding the burden of mental illness on our society and the disparities in the diagnosis and management of mental disorders that exist across race, socioeconomic status, and incarceration status.

Suicide is the second-leading cause of death among individuals aged 10-34 in the U.S. More than 70% of youth in the juvenile justice system have a diagnosed mental illness. The prevalence of mental illness is 18.4% higher for women and 13.5% higher for men in severely food-insecure households compared to those reporting food security. Furthermore, individuals of racial and ethnic minorities have less access to mental health services than do white individuals. After entering care, minority patients are less likely than white patients to receive the best available treatments for depression and anxiety.

Our society has come a long way to accepting mental disorders as tangible, treatable conditions like any other physical ailments. However, psychiatric disorders still often go untreated and undiagnosed due to the lack of access to care, the lack of education surrounding mental health, and the stigma that comes with being labeled with a certain psychiatric condition. Individuals who do not receive adequate mental health care are at greater risk for suicide, homelessness, and incarceration—all of which lead to further stress and trauma, only perpetuating the cycle of mental illness. Furthermore, on a larger scale, untreated mental health issues can also lead to increased healthcare costs, reduced productivity, and significantly decreased quality of life for individuals and their families.

It is essential that we increase access to mental health care for all individuals, with priority placed on those of low socioeconomic status, those incarcerated, and those of racial and ethnic minorities. Because mental health disparities are rooted almost entirely in mental healthcare disparities, policy efforts should focus on improving access to and quality of mental healthcare for these groups. This requires a multifaceted approach that includes increasing funding for mental health services for low-income households, addressing the social determinants of mental health—such as poverty, incarceration, and discrimination—and increasing education surrounding mental illness, so as to reduce the stigma. We must also advocate for insurance reform so that more mental health services are covered, or consider a single-payer system, in which every single individual has access to some sort of mental health care coverage.

I hope you will consider the facts I have brought to light. Mental illness has been increasing worldwide at an alarming rate, with 40% of U.S. adults being affected. If we do not prioritize creating access to treatment and management of these conditions for all individuals, the burden on our society will only increase.

Olivia Scheuermann, MD Candidate at the UF College of Medicine

The opinions expressed by letter or opinion writers are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of AlachuaChronicle.com. Letters may be submitted to info@alachuachronicle.com and are published at the discretion of the editor.

    • She makes it sound like it’s a cultural thing. Prolly the result of the welfare system.

  • Don’t have children if you can’t educate and feed them …it’s called personal responsibility. The nuclear family is important. Marriage & the family is important.

      • Say no to Vax passport…& RNA Vax. They want technology in you that determines your carbon footprint by 2030 and you will be able to be Hacked. Vax passport is the mark of the beast. F the WEF & the WHO. You will not be able to engage in commerce without the mark and they are using the medical establishment to fulfill their destiny with the big lie.

  • Mental health is difficult to handle. Los Angeles has a huge homeless population, yet their massive homeless shelter program is at less than 40% capacity. Sadly those most in need simply don’t want help. Throwing money at the situation, much less raising the racial card is not the answer.

  • Throwing taxpayer money at it won’t fix anything…You can’t do anything with psychopaths. There’s No cure.
    Have faith in Jesus, god, and the 10 commandments…

  • Many so-called social problems are actually personal or family problems originating outside of the public or political realms.
    Focus on what’s driving individuals to seek out coping crutches like drugs and alcohol, what’s their motive?
    Just creating more activist causes and policies won’t fix it. Did our health overall get better or worse, as politicians got involved?

  • Counseling and medication is what they do. There’s not a lot you can do
    with drug addicts & schizophrenics.
    I bet you the writer is for mandatory Vax passports too. This is a job security letter for the medical profession.

    • Bingo! Maybe the great reset will require permits to procreate.

  • There are so many layers of onion to peel and challenge in the passionate opinion expressed by the MD candidate that it may be best to pull back and allow her a few years in the real world of politics and healthcare.

    That will certainly guide her to her own personal couch.

  • The real facts the MD candidate needs to consider, make that realize, is that many households today do not take an active role in disciplining their children. When it is needed in certain environments, (educational facilities), the same parent(s) object to any implementation of correctional consequences.

    Instead of going to a doctor to get an excuse for disobedience and unruly behavior from their child, they should apply a little leather, (in moderation of course). It’s a time proven instrument that often is well suited to correct inappropriate behavior.
    Stop taking them out for ice cream and letting them play games on your cellphone. That’s not teaching them anything except their behavior is acceptable.

    If 70% of juveniles in detention centers have been diagnosed with mental illness; that means one thing – 70% of parents have failed not only their child(ren), they’ve failed society as well. Be a parent instead of trying to be a best friend.

  • Just come out and say it, Olivia…the industry wants to sell more SSRI’s.

  • “Mental illness has been increasing worldwide at an alarming rate, with 40% of U.S. adults being affected.” The mental illness to which you refer is called Regressivism. Don’t worry, there are those of us out here who are working hard to stop it.

  • There is an increased risk of mental illness in those with low IQs. That probably accounts for most of the disparity. Low IQ people probably have a more difficult time with the logistics of seeking treatment, too. Race, socioeconomic status, and incarceration rates are not necessarily independent variables.

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