It has been reported now in several media outlets that the level of prescribers for psychiatric patients is dangerously low.
The need far outweighs what is available for those suffering from mental illness.
What this basically boils down to is that patients are not adequately receiving the services they desperately need to maintain their mental health.
This has already resulted in many patients turning to the emergency room for medications, some of them then being checked into the mental health unit because their needs were not met and their mental health deteriorated.
Another sad aspect of all of this is the stigma of mental illness, a grave reality for many who are already suffering, their condition compounded by a society that often does not understand the symptoms they are witnessing.
It happens all too often with, for example, the clinically depressed. Loved ones, friends, colleagues, cannot understand why they cannot get out of bed and spend their days crying and in despair.
Individuals who do not understand this illness, often out of a desire to help, driven by fear though, will tell them to exercise, eat right, just get up and do something, not understanding why they are bed ridden and unable to muster the energy for what appears to them to be normal, every day and often simple tasks.
It happens to individuals with bipolar disorder, often after they have been swept away by mania and act out recklessly, impulsively and destructively. Those who witness the behaviors and who do not understand the illness, often treat the sufferer as though they were not succumbing to symptoms of their disease but willingly engaging in the behaviors that at times define their illness.
It is easy to see why there would be symptoms around mental illness. When people break their legs they are in casts and if they do not utilize their crutches they are likely to fall over and hurt themselves or someone else. But those around them understand that they have an injured leg, and that is why they cannot stand upright on their own.
If someone has a weak heart, that individual will require heart medication and that person's heart will not function properly, also an illness or ailment that is easy to understand, even though, like mental illness, it is not seen.
But mental illness is different, even though the irrational behaviors of the mentally ill make perfect sense as the brain controls actions and thoughts and if it is not functioning properly, then people are going to behave in ways that do not appear normal to society.
No one who is mentally ill asked for the illness, but it is the hand they were dealt and must live with.
An estimated 26.2 percent of Americans — more than 57 million people — age 18 and older suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Mental disorders are the leading cause of disability in the United States.
In 2004, 32,439 people died by suicide in the United States. More than 90 percent of people who kill themselves have a diagnosable mental disorder.
Fewer than one-third of adults and one-half of children with a diagnosable mental disorder receive mental health services in a given year.
Organizations such as Behavioral Health Services North are doing all they can to remedy the lack of prescribers in the area and ensure those suffering from mental illnesses receive the care they need. Until that happens, people suffering from a mental disorder are going to have to live with the extra burden that lack in care results in.
But the population as a whole can take a simple step that would relieve the burden caused by the stigma of mental illness by educating itself and providing the benefit of the doubt when coming across the possible symptoms of mental illness.
It seems no one would pick on or judge or avoid an individual who was displaying symptoms from heart disease. Then why would we do that to an individual displaying symptoms brought on by the brain not functioning properly?
Many of us do, but we shouldn't.
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