We Desperately Need To Talk About Mental Health More, And Here's Why
We're all way more likely to struggle with a mental health disorder than not. So why aren't we talking about it?
On one hand, the progress we’ve made in amplifying conversations around mental health is heartening. In recent years, we’ve seen numerous therapy apps and online platforms emerge, which has greatly increased access. Celebrities and other high-profile figures have become more candid about their own struggles, and we’ve even seen efforts of global mobilization on the issue.
On the other hand, research shows it’s not nearly enough. With every mental health related tragedy, we’re reminded that our ability to effectively support individuals struggling with mental health issues is way too little, too late, way too often.
Especially considering a new study published in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology, which suggests that almost everybody will struggle with a mental disorder at some point in their lives.
Researchers closely studied a generation of New Zealanders in the same town, from birth to midlife, and what they discovered was remarkable: Over 80 percent of the subjects developed a diagnosable mental illness at some point in their lives.
Add to that the recent findings of Born This Way, Lady Gaga’s foundation dedicated to supporting the wellness of young people. In a survey of over 3,000 people between the ages of 15 and 24, 57 percent said their mental health is a priority, but 54 percent rarely talk about it, if ever.
Twenty-nine percent weren’t sure whether the health insurance they receive through work covers mental health services, and 36 percent of high school students said they’d never had a class that addressed it.
In other words: Mental health issues affect a ton of people—literally, almost everyone—and yet we’re still not talking about it enough. And the stigma, for all the progress we’ve made, persists in a way that continues to be detrimental.
And while the GOP’s latest efforts to pass a health care plan that would have greatly reduced access to mental health services for potentially millions of Americans was shot down early this morning, the future remains uncertain. And that's a terrifying prospect for all of us.
What we do know is that based off the various health care plans the Republicans have put forward, mental health is not a priority. Which means that in light of these recent findings, it’s more important than ever that we continue the conversation, ask for help when we need it, and provide support to those battling mental health issues themselves.
Words: Deena Drewis
Photo: Daria Kobayashi Ritch