WASHINGTON – When Tom Starling first heard the statistic that one in five Americans had mental illness, he thought it was a mistake. The number just seemed too high.
He then recalled the number of women with postpartum depression and the departure of veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder after military service. He has been thinking of statistics on suicide and childhood trauma, the rise of anxiety and depression, and the number of families who are victims of domestic violence.
Starling, the chairman of the board of Mental Health America, has reconsidered his decision. He decided that if you take all these factors into account, the initial number is probably too low. It is probably more than one in two who has mental health problems, he said Thursday at the group's annual conference.
Hundreds of mental health experts, advocates, public health officials, community organizers and school leaders gathered here this week for the annual Mental Health America conference. The 2019 theme "Diagnoses of duels" refers to the fact that mental health issues rarely move alone. It is more likely that people with depression are also anxious or that someone with either autism or mental illness, each condition complicating the management of the other. And the treatment requires seeing and tracking the whole person.
Deseret News has received a media award from Mental Health America for its "Generation Vexed" series dedicated to adolescent anxiety. And we listened and learned conversations from this conference. Experts want experts to keep in mind the links between mental health and everything else:
1. Mental and physical conditions often coexist.
That's what Simone Lambert says, who trains counselors and is president of the American Counseling Association and professor at Capella University. "Most people have more of a problem," she said, citing a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation study that found that 68 percent of adults with mental disorders were sick and nearly three adults out of 10 with mental disorders.
For older adults, the number of people with a chronic physical or mental illness is 80% – but older people are not the only group disproportionately affected by chronic disorders. Ethnic and racial minorities are twice as numerous as whites, while the poor are also at higher risk than those with more resources.
Lambert emphasized that receiving proper care involves recognizing and treating all the mental and physical disorders that a person may have and recognizing that they are "complex and bidirectional".
2 You can not treat cancer without worrying about your mental health.
Nearly 40% of Americans will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime and "the usual response to cancer is to feel traumatized," said Elizabeth Franklin, executive director of the Cancer Policy Institute.
However, the majority of time and energy is spent on the issue of aggressive and immediate treatment, rather than asking the person what is important to them, what they are concerned about and the emotional and emotional support they need. .
Heather Miller, National Alliance on Mental Illness
While at the George Washington University Cancer Center, which is responsible for managing patient browsers, Dr. Franklin said the primary daily concern for patients was transportation. And the problems of childcare were not far behind.
Although cancer can cause a range of mental health problems such as depression and anxiety, it is also essential that people with chronic mental health issues before a cancer diagnosis is quickly put into action. contact.
The cancer support community, which offers a help line from 9 am to 9 pm, is one of the resources available. HE at 1-888-793-9355, plus a list of support groups where cancer patients and survivors can get in touch with others to get help beyond the procedures medical.
3 Mental well-being is a matter of community.
When Mayor Scott Fadness learned that his officers had arrested 157 people in 2014 because they were in crisis and were at risk of getting hurt or injured, he promised that Fishers, in Indiana, would do more. to help people "who suffer from silent desperation".
Thus, in 2015, Fadness brought together police chiefs and firefighters, school officials, religious leaders, community advocates and business leaders to tackle the problem of mental health and make systemic and substantial changes beneficial to their community of 92,000 people located just outside of Indianapolis.
The city first strengthened mental health training for first responders, police and firefighters – the people most likely to meet people in times of crisis. They also created an emergency officer position to answer mental health calls, and then follow up with the person within 72 hours to check care and establish a relationship, because those are the relationships that make the difference.
Fadness told the story of a young woman with behavioral problems who, on a difficult day, left her school and found herself on a busy road. The police were unable to calm her down until a police officer remembered that she had answered questions about her lizard well. Almost immediately, the situation was cleared and they were able to get the help they needed.
And the need grows. In Fishers, firefighters responded to 42 fires this quarter, but 164 calls for mental health – 41 of which were suicidal.
4 Schools play a crucial role in supporting children.
Fishers schools were an important part of the mental health initiative: they intervened before children reached the crisis stage and needed the police.
The Hamilton Southeastern School District is now training teachers in suicide prevention, giving evidence-based suicide prevention courses to Grade 8 students, and recently partnering with a community health organization to add more providers. accredited to its 22 schools.
Prior to the partnership, the school provided mental health services to approximately 50 children per year, but since January 2017, professionals have reached 1,254 children in school settings, said Brooke Lawson, Mental Health Coordinator and Hamilton Southeastern Schools Academic Guidance.
During the 2018-2019 school year, counselors delivered 8,424 individual therapy sessions to 843 students.
Among children receiving mental health treatment, grades have increased, while disciplinary measures and missed school days are decreasing.
And while the school is hearing more and more students say they plan to hurt themselves, the slight increase is strangely encouraging.
"We want more and more children to come forward and tell us that they are struggling," Lawson said. "We have the feeling of creating a culture (where everything is fine) of saying" I think of wanting to hurt myself ", and the children know who to talk to when they feel like that."
But the most famous number of Fishers is zero: they have not lost a district student to suicide since 2013.
5 The traumas of childhood are often neglected.
As a registered professional counselor in Pennsylvania, Denise Takakjy often receives recommendations from local school teachers, asking her to "fix this child because we need them to learn".
Teachers are particularly concerned about fear, avoidance, irritability, aggressive behavior, sexualized behavior, sensory problems, emotion regulation, regression of development, difficulty in trusting to others and social isolation.
Yet when Takakjy talks to children, she usually finds that "the response to such trauma is a traumatic reaction."
And our body reacts to the trauma in many negative ways.
For Elizabeth Breier, 14 years of abuse and neglect in a dysfunctional home (she had 9 negative experiences on her childhood over 10) meant that she was constantly sick and agitated at primary school and was starting to use drugs and alcohol in high school.
François Duhamel, Amazon Studios
At the age of 40, she had received five different mental health diagnoses, underwent four surgeries and suffered from three different autoimmune disorders, all resulting from an untreated childhood trauma.
"So, as you can imagine, I'm really passionate about early detection of this situation," said Breier, who is now working as a training and implementation specialist at the Center for Rehabilitation and Development. New York Recovery.
Early detection means encouraging parents, teachers, and professionals to look beyond behaviors and consider the impact of obvious trauma on children, as well as less obvious life changes, and be willing to delay a diagnosis of mental health and / or drug treatment until they have taken into account the impact of CEAs.
And if a child does have ECAs, the best way to help them is to create safe, stable and rewarding relationships and environments, because everyone succeeds better if they know they are loved, and that love is unconditional and constant. .
6 Genetics is only part of the story of a person's well-being.
Where people live and work, what they earn and if they have support networks account for almost half of their health outcomes. The difficult part of social influences – factors such as housing instability, language and financial barriers, immigration status and the political climate of a region – can be detrimental to the well-being of an individual. Add to that behavioral factors such as exercise or nutrition and the fact that people smoke and that the overall health impact reaches 80%.
These figures are shared by Thomas J. Hart of Anthem, whose Institute of Public Policy has studied the issue in "Bridging Gaps to Build Healthy Communities," and Timothy Livengood of Mental Health America, Carolina. l & # 39; Is.
These types of factors are called social determinants or determinants of health. Different groups expand the list to indicate whether people feel safe, whether their personal identity is respected, their level of education, and so on.
7. Stable housing is key to restoring mental and physical health issues.
The affordable housing crisis in America – a shortage of at least 7.2 million units across the country – increases the vulnerability of low-income people with mental illness.
Mike Koprowski of Opportunity Starts at Home said, "The connection between housing and mental health is clear." For someone with a serious mental health problem, the difficulty of finding safe and affordable housing "is one of the biggest barriers to recovery." Every 35 units available and affordable, 100 families need it. And only a quarter of those eligible for federal housing assistance will get it.
Andrew Sperling, of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, said that "no social determinant of health leads to worse outcomes than inadequate housing" for people with mental illness. Unstable housing increases the risk of homelessness, incarceration and hospitalization.
Both organizations are actively involved in an alliance with other groups to lobby for public policies that increase the availability of affordable housing. "Housing policy is a mental health policy," they said.
8 Everyone has a place in finding solutions to mental illness.
Dr. Joshua A. Gordon, director of the National Institute of Mental Health, has launched a plea for the "All of Us" initiative, whose ambitious goal is to make it a reality. bring a million Americans to volunteer for research at the National Institutes of Health. The project needs all kinds of people to help solve the health problems resulting from biology, the environment and the way of life. The way people are different can illuminate the medical challenges and their answers.
"To help people with mental illness, they need to sign up," he said, highlighting the need for a significant study effort to include people with mental health disorders. from diet and obsessive-compulsive disorder to those suffering from psychosis or psychic disorders. bipolar disorders.
The studies are not only focused on mental health, but on health in general. And those who have not diagnosed a medical problem or mental health are also needed. To learn more and register, visit joinallofus.org.