Mental illness takes a terrible toll
We have lost much during the polarizing election with its focus on our country being increasing divided between the rich and the poor and the fear of “the other.” But there is one thing that Americans of all races, all social classes and political parties have in common: one in five Americans suffer from some form of mental illness in a given year, according to the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, which offers support and advocacy.
“Forty six percentof our homeless suffer from chronic mental health problems ... Among persons with substance abuse problems, 50 percent have a coexisting mental health problem of some kind ... Only 41 percent of persons with mental illness receive treatment in a given year ... Persons with chronic mental illness die on an average of 25 years earlier than those without ... Serious mental health problems cost $193 billion a year in lost wages alone.”
Compare that with the U.S. military budget! And we all know how terribly post traumatic stress disorders affect some of our heroic veterans.
The statistics go on: 420 children under the age of 14 commit suicide every year in the U.S. Is this the kind of society we want to have?
New treatments become available, but so many cannot afford them. Churches, other faith communities and politicians need to become more involved. And we need more resources as well.
Most unfortunately, the new administration’s proposed reduction in funding to treat mental illness will affect our most vulnerable citizens. There are many ways to become involved.
We need all the resources we can muster!