Mental Health Treatment: What’s Stopping You from Getting the Help You Need?

Mental Health Treatment: What’s Stopping You from Getting the Help You Need?

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) of the US Department of Health and Human Services hopes to answer that question with a recent publication. It’s a question that is important because avoiding treatment is one of the biggest obstacles that patients face in learning how to manage devastating mental health symptoms.

What Are the Challenges?

SAMHSA makes the point that in the past, mental health practitioners approached mental health after the fact, that is, after a person had already developed a mental illness. Nowadays, thanks to advancements in mental health science, this is no longer necessary. Now we know enough about why mental illness occurs that we can actually head off a problem before it occurs. A person at risk of mental illness doesn’t actually need to develop one, if the right strategy is followed. Adopting the correct strategy, however, involves changing attitudes – of the patient and the community.

One major group that we know is going to experience pressures that may lead to mental illness is the young, yet comparatively few receive treatment.

  • Young people in the process of becoming adults experience significant factors that indicate or can lead to mental disturbance, including higher rates of homicide, suicide, arrest, dropping out, and substance abuse. Yet, ironically, young people often fail to see the danger signs.
  • Between six and 12 percent of youths and young adults have serious mental health conditions.
  • Although large numbers of youths experience substance abuse problems, few (only about 12 percent) are referred to the mental health system by their schools.
  • Less than 20 percent of adolescents with mental help problems get treatment.

Adults don’t fare much better when it comes to getting mental health care:

  • Only about 38 percent of adults with diagnosable conditions are treated.
  • While stable housing is considered a must for good mental health, a large percentage of persons with mental health problems are homeless.
  • Persons with mental health problems are more likely to be uninsured and thus unable to pay for treatment.

Changing Social Attitudes

Factors beyond an individual’s control also stand as potential obstacles to treatment:

  • The mentally ill are often viewed as potentially violent, although studies show they are far more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators.
  • The mentally ill, especially those with substance abuse problems, are often incarcerated, where they may or may not receive treatment.

While there are many obstacles to obtaining treatment for mental health problems, the fact remains that mental health issues are usually treatable and often even preventable. For more information about how mental health treatment can benefit you or someone in your family, call now.