Tuesday, June 07, 2005

U.S. Survey of Mental Illness Alarming

According to today's news, a quarter of all Americans met the criteria for having a mental illness within the past year, and fully 25 per cent of those had a "serious" disorder that significantly disrupted their ability to function every day, says the largest and most detailed survey of America's mental health.

While the trend indicates the percentages involved seem to have flattened, what is more alarming is the fact that less than 50% get the needed treatment. Futhermore, when they do seek and get treatment, it is often a decade too late, during which other related problems have developed, rendering the treatment usually ineffective.

Worse still is that half of those diagnosed with mental illness had symptoms by age 14, and three-quarters of them by age 24.

The study says inattention to early signs, inadequate health insurance and the lingering stigma around mental illness all contribute to the failings. Those may be the causes of poor results in curing the illness, but I believe we do a great injustice in not addressing the root causes for the illness in the first place.

Yes, I'll grant you some mental illness is due to one's 'physical chemistry'. But much of it is also due to one's sense of not being loved, not having a purpose in life, not feeling adequate or beautiful. Some of it is due to underdeveloped spirituality in one's life. Some has to do with the pressure of life, especially when alone. Some has to do with guilt. Some has to do with the breakdown of the family. Still some is due to the use of drugs for non-medical purposes, and sometimes even for medical purposes.

We cannot stop all mental illness, but we can do a lot better than we are doing if we are serious enough to get back to the basics in terms of what the Creator's priorities for us were -- our relationship with Him, our relationship with our family, those in our place of worship, and our calling in service to mankind. You can be sure that individuals and families that have committed themselves to these priorities somehow will not have lower mental illness statistics then the general population. But then again, we'll never know because it isn't politically correct or advantageous for governments to study this from this perspective.

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