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Let's Do The Numbers On Psychiatry, Psychology And Therapy In America

Let’s do the numbers.  How many people in the USA are suffering from a diagnosable mental illness at any given time?  Below, I’ve taken the liberty of borrowing some statistics from the National Institute of Mental Health [NIMH] and the numbers are staggering.  According to NIMH, about 26% of American adults over 18 – about one in four - suffer from a diagnosable mental health disorder in a given year.  That doesn’t count the millions of children with mental illness and it doesn’t count the large number of people who have a mental illness, but do not seek care for it.  In other words, the actual number is surely much higher than the reported one.

With mental health needs at this high level, we as a society need to be encouraging mental health professionals such as psychiatrists, psychologists, nurses, psychotherapists and others to be engaging the population to improve the mental health picture in the USA.  Instead, these would-be heroes of mental health care are impeded every step of the way.

The federal government is busy demonizing care givers by claiming that they [as a group] are responsible for so much fraud that the feds can pay up to 5% of the costs of the new health care reform effort by stopping it!  I don’t even know how many billions of dollars this is and to me this is nonsense on the face of it.  Almost every doctor I’ve ever worked with is making every effort to help as many people as possible - quietly and responsibly.  When the feds aren’t wildly accusing people of crimes, they are busy paying psychiatrists and other clinicians too little for too much.  Even as we speak, the feds are threatening a 21% Medicare fee cut – a cut to fees already so low that large numbers of docs are fleeing medical practice altogether.  And this is not because of greed, it’s because they can’t pay their student loan bills anymore.

The state governments in many states are busy with “reform” efforts of their own.  Usually what reform means in this context is a government mandate to cut costs no matter what pain is caused to the needy populations in those states.  In North Carolina, for example, the government championed a move to treat patients “with dignity within their own communities” by private provider networks.  Sounds good until one notices that they forgot to establish any private provider networks capable of anything approaching the care needs of these folks.

With mental illness numbers like these, our society should be adopting the mentality of mid-western towns mustering manpower to sandbag overflowing river banks at flood time.   It’s an emergency!  And getting worse!  To arms, to arms!  We need to pull together as a team, private citizens and government, to help people and stop worrying so much about pennies.

Click here and scroll down for some interesting statistics from the NIMH.

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